An Attitude of Gratitude
Without warning, we were hit! A driver ran a red light and T-boned us, 400 miles from home, in downtown Wilmington, Delaware. After a quick check on everyone, all six of us exited the van. One called 911. One called AAA. Another comforted her sister, who was shaken up. One started taking pictures of the accident scene. And one went to check on the driver who hit us.
About a month after the incident, I shared the story with my Spiritual Director. She asked me to create a list of everything I was grateful for from this experience. Really? Gratitude? The request seemed counter-intuitive but proved to be very rewarding. Maybe you’ve noticed from your own life when we get caught up in the negative, our energy wanes, anxiety builds, and we may find ourselves feeling helpless. But we have a choice. We can focus instead on the blessings in our daily life. This choice can empower us, change our disposition, and help us keep God at the forefront of our mind.
I discovered this is not some pie-in-the-sky ideal. Counting your blessings is more than just thinking happy thoughts. It involves being consistent and intentional about the choices we make in our lives, even if we don’t feel like it. And as studies point out, we may benefit.
A quick Google search on “gratitude” will reveal many scientific articles and studies from such places as Johns Hopkins, Berkeley, and Harvard that demonstrate “... gratitude may be associated with many benefits for individuals, including better physical and psychological health, increased happiness and life satisfaction, decreased materialism and more” (Allen, Summer. (2018). The Science of Gratitude).
First and foremost, I’m grateful everyone involved in the crash walked away without injuries. I’m grateful for my wife and daughters. I’m grateful we had family an hour away. I’m grateful our insurance agent is a friend of ours. I’m grateful for all the resources we do have... And once I started listing what I was grateful for, I filled two pages worth of blessings within minutes! Was this event inconvenient? Yes. Could it have been worse? Absolutely. There is so much to be grateful for in my life.
Coincidently (or maybe not), as I was completing this spiritual exercise, I was asked to review a book we will be giving away this weekend at St. Greg’s for Advent. I saw some similarities. The book is entitled, Holy Moments: A Handbook For The Rest Of Your Life. It has themes of being intentional and making positive decisions. Just like we can choose to be grateful, we can also choose to collaborate with God.
A ‘Holy Moment’ is a single moment in which we open ourselves up to God. We make ourselves available to Him. We set aside personal preferences and self-interest, and for one moment, we prayerfully do what we believe God is calling us to do. Every one of us is equipped, right
now, to cooperate with God on any given day or at any given minute and create a ‘Holy Moment.’
The author, Matthew Kelly, believes we possess an incredible power: we can choose what is good and holy or we can choose what is unholy and destructive. Our choices have power. Intrigued? Please pick up this book, read it, and apply it to your life. See what kind of difference you can make in your relationship with God, in your life, and in the lives of those around you.
Some people call him Superman as his striking resemblance to Clark Kent and his ability to do great things, Brian Ruh is the Director of Evangelization here at St. Greg's.
Brian is happily married to his wife Trish and they have four lovely daughters. If you see him around at Mass, feel free to say "hi!"