At Evensong we sing the two canticles, known in Latin as the Magnificat and the Nunc Dimittis,. After singing them a couple of weeks back, it struck me how full of thankfulness they both are. From different perspectives both Mary and Simeon are grateful to God for the coming of Jesus and all that it promises.
The Roman writer Cicero says, “Gratitude is not only the greatest of virtues, but the parent of all others”. When I came across this quotation, it set me thinking. Do I agree that all other positive behaviours and attitudes stem from our approaching life with gratitude? Probably only trying to put it into practice would give me an answer.
Certainly, it is salutary to stop and notice what my attitude is, what I am focused on and how I am feeling. All too often it is life’s frustrations and stresses that are taking my attention and I make little room for gratitude.
I soon realised that what we focus on expands. I read that when we focus a little longer on a positive experience, it forms a positive pathway in the brain. If in a spirit of gratitude we pause and notice that flower, listen to that bird song, or say “thank you” for the efforts that others have made, we are building a bank of uplifting experiences we can draw on.
We all need such a bank. Life is not always rosy. A spirit of gratitude can help us to lift our spirits and navigate those challenges.