Creating a grateful heart

Did you hear that line? 
During Pope Francis' last mass in Philadelphia on his recent trip to the U.S. he  looked up and asked, "In my own home, do we shout? Or do we speak to each other in love and tenderness? That is a good way of measuring our love."

I had to stop and listen. 
I was cleaning the kitchen when I heard those words. I knew I had to put my dishes down and sit and listen. It had been one of those busy weeks and instead of accepting it and rolling with it, I returned to my old familiar pattern of falling victim to it and fighting it. I allowed my 'to-do' list to dictate my mood and be the measure of my self-worth. (I wrote a book on this, you would think I would have learned by now!)

Do you let your 'to-do' list rule over you? 
Do you do that too? Do you say to yourself, "I will relax or I will be at peace once I cross everything off of my list." Instead of looking realistically at my  expectations and looking at my reality for the week (yes, I know it's step four in my book...) I kept driving on, constantly falling short and constantly feeling like I was never doing enough or being enough.

This is where the shouting comes in. 
If I step out of my daily grounding routine - centering prayer, morning scripture or musical reflections - the rolling list in the back of my head of all the things I'm not doing and being can easily lead to impatient shouting and that's what happened during that week. I got busy, I skipped my spiritual routines that keep me centered, and the result was a lot of: "Hurry up!" "Why is no one taking the dog out to walk?!" "No more electronics!" Oh, and I have to add the latest controversy in my house, "Who's stealing the phone chargers?!"

What does this have to do with gratitude?  
I'm preparing for a retreat on gratitude at the end of this month and it's helping me reflect on how much the vicious 'not enough' syndrome gets in the way of gratitude. There are so many wonderful little moments of God's grace to help us stop and see how much we have instead of focusing on what we don't have. The reward is a much more joyful life. Gratitude and joy go hand-in-hand. Recent studies have concluded that the expression of gratitude can have profound and positive effects on our health, our moods and even the survival of our marriages.

Creating a Grateful Heart
Research shows that the people who are the most grateful, practice gratitude.  Gratitude is not an attitude you wake up one morning and decide to have. Dr. Brene Brown in her book, "The Gifts of Imperfection" says, "It seems that gratitude without practice may be a little like faith without works-it's not alive". Practicing gratitude can be prayer, journaling, or gratitude meditations.

I am enough. God is enough. 
Lately, I've been repeating this little mantra to myself, "I am enough. God is enough." It doesn't mean I neglect the responsible things I need to do for God, my family, and myself. It's a reminder to discern the difference between what I feel God is calling me to do and be and what I hear society telling me to do and be. Discerning the difference brings me back to a place of "enough" and a place of gratitude.

Join me on this gratitude journey. 
I want to be a much more grateful person and I want to improve my gratitude practice so I can be more at peace with I have, what I do, and who I am. I know I'll be a much more joyful person and I'll be a better person to my family and all those around me. As I prepare for my retreat October 24th on gratitude, I am trying something new on my Facebook page: "Creating a Grateful Heart" month full of gratitude reflections and discussion.