“Don’t be anxious about anything; rather, bring up all of your requests to God in your prayers and petitions, along with giving thanks.” – Philippians 4:6

Yesterday, deep into a difficult week, I took a walk in the rain. Boots on, umbrella up, I even splashed some puddles. I took some deep breaths of the cool, fresh air, opened up a line of communication with God, and reminded myself of my blessings, one by one.

Gratitude is not just a good idea leading up to Thanksgiving, it’s a spiritual power tool that can be cultivated as a state of mind, a state of spirit, a state of being. And when I say ‘cultivated,’ I mean that we can choose gratitude as an orientation and then be intentional about pushing it to the front of our minds. We can choose our frame of reference:

The attitude we live out from can be, or become, a habit just like anything—remember the classic movie scene from Singing in the Rain? Bitterness is a habitual framework; a sour disposition most certainly is too; anger, cynicism and looking for the negative absolutely become de facto, programmed, reflexive responses.

My question is this: “Why would we allow other people the power to shape who we are and what we are feeling when, instead, we have the means within us to choose something beautiful? Why allow the news, circumstances, angry people, those pushing negative viewpoints, uptight legalists, manipulative politicians (and suchlike) to force us into a negative mindset?”

What works about a positive spirit is that being upbeat does not deny what is difficult and troubling in this world—it just refuses to be regulated by the negative.

This is an extension, really, of my thinking around the word ‘benediction.’ We have this opportunity to speak blessings into this world; we can also speak gratitude and know the power of a thankful heart.

“Always be joyful. Never stop praying. Be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you.” – 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18

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Derek Maul
Derek Maul has written for many news outlets, including the Tampa Tribune, The United Methodist News Service, All Pro Dad, FOCUS Magazine, Newsweek, USA Today, The Christian Science Monitor, Presbyterians Today, Guideposts, Chicken Soup for the Soul and many other publications. Read Derek Maul’s daily blog posts at www.derekmaul.wordpress.com.