It’s an Outlook
Ever since I embraced positivism, the practice which has had one of the biggest effects on my outlook is expressing gratitude. I remember an episode of Battlestar Galactica where the Cylons showed how they could project any reality they wished upon their ship so that instead of drab metal corridors, they walked through lush forests or towering cathedrals. I think that expressing gratitude is akin to this since when one changes one’s outlook to focus more on the positive, one’s world changes with it.
Let’s Be Real
This is not to say that bad things don’t continue to happen. And the world may very well be on the path to destruction. But giving in to despair is never the solution for dealing with challenges. It is no coincidence that despair is considered one of the Deadly Sins, implying as it does, a rejection of God’s love and grace. From a secular perspective one might simply ask oneself which is a more productive outlook, giving in to despair or fighting to the end for a more positive outcome?
Aren’t You Talking About Prayer?
It has been suggested to me that expressing gratitude is no different than prayer and that any differences that exist are a mere matter of semantics. I see the point, but when I express gratitude for a beautiful sunset or the taste of some delicious dessert on my tongue, I am grateful for the experience in itself, not a “creator” for providing me with this experience. If I am grateful to anything like a god, it is the universe itself, which we can observe and interact with. We don’t require faith to know that it is infinitely creative and responsible for all the beauty and bounty on this Earth. Science has proven it is so.
It’s a Matter of Perspective
Nevertheless, I don’t concern myself with such debates when I am expressing gratitude. I focus on the feeling itself. The love that wells up in my heart for a creation that contains so much to nurture my spirit. It can be the smile of an infant, time spent with family or friends, my healthy teeth, the shady plane trees that line my street, a hot shower, the sound of rain outside my window…the possibilities for feeling grateful are practically infinite. My advice, therefore, to anyone feeling down in the dumps, is to make a true accounting of your situation. Try to think of your life from a more global perspective: there are always those whose situations may be worse but nevertheless manage to make the best of things by focusing on the true values of life: health, family and friendships. And in the meantime, don’t forget to express an inner appreciation for that glorious sunset or that delicious dessert.