There have been quite a few days in November that I’ve been filled with anger and frustration. Anger at the injustice, lies and malicious attempts to stop a few of us from doing something that is inherently good. Frustration at how slow the wheels of justice and the system work. But it’s at times like this that I reach the instant mood changer – gratitude!
The Instant Mood Changer
Yes, from many years of experience, I’ve learned that gratitude is the best way to change perspective and change mood in times when I’m given to despair and sadness. No, I’m not supressing my emotions. I realize what I am feeling and own those emotions. And then I start to slowly pull myself out of the mood by looking at all I’ve learned from a situation, mentally listing all the resources I have and just being grateful for it all.
Gratitude blocks toxic, negative emotions, such as envy, resentment, regret—emotions that can destroy our happiness. There’s even recent evidence, including a 2008 study by psychologist Alex Wood in the Journal of Research in Personality, showing that gratitude can reduce the frequency and duration of episodes of depression.– How Gratitude Changes You and Your Brain
Learning to reach for gratitude takes time and effort. I’m continuing to learn. There are so many practices that I come across and today, I’d like to share this one with you.
A Practice of Deepening Gratitude
“Holy Freedom, Holy Rejoicing,
I open my heart to the world
Offering myself to this day,
In joyfulness and gratitude.”
— Beverly Lanzetta
We can choose gratitude as a contemplative practice, praising God until we, ourselves, are an act of praise. Join us in a Lectio Divina practice of deepening gratitude with the words above from Dr. Beverly Lanzetta, a theologian, spiritual teacher, and author of many books on universal spirituality and new monasticism.
Lectio Divina (Latin for sacred reading) is a contemplative way of seeking Divine presence in a text. There are four steps to Lectio Divina:
1. Read Dr. Lanzetta’s words (out loud, if possible), very slowly and clearly. Allow yourself to settle into the words. Pause for a breath or two before moving on.
2. For the second reading, listen from a centered heart and notice any word or phrase that stands out to you.
3. After a few moments of silence, read the text a third time, taking time to linger over this word or phrase. Focus on it until it engages your body, heart, and awareness of the seen and unseen world around you. You may want to speak a response aloud or write something in your journal.
4. For the final reading, respond with a prayer or expression of what you have experienced, inviting the infinite wisdom of God to support you in growing in gratitude.
The quote from Dr. Lanzetta comes from her poem “Canticle of Praise,” in her book “A Feast of Prayers.” I taken this practice from the Center for Action and Contemplation