Let Us Thank Like We Have Never Thanked Before!
Awakening grateful for the feel of being alive, for our loved ones, for loving people everywhere, for our beautiful world, the air, the trees, the animals, the sea—for all these things our hearts expand as we breathe in our universe.
In Kurt Vonnegut’s expression, we are the lucky mud. And scientists have found that feeling of gratitude increases our happiness, aids those around us to be more positive, ripples out and out around the world. And we here at UUCE are among the luckiest of muds. In my travels, I have not met a more congenial or loving congregation. The respect from one to another is truly inspirational. I am grateful to be amongst you. I sense your gratitude at being with us all in this fine prairie church, able to reach out to address the urgent needs of our brethren and our planet. There is a profound UU Principle #1 at work here and I am grateful for it!
An Attitude of Gratitude
Here at UUCE, we have an attitude of gratitude. And tomorrow, Thanksgiving, is our special day to celebrate our connectedness to each other, our families, our world and our capability to be engaged and to make a difference.
In these tough political, justice, and environmental crises, we can feel desperate, discouraged, and exhausted. But let us look each other in the eye and draw strength from each other, from our gratitude. Some think that Oprah Winfrey coined the term “attitude of gratitude” or that recent scientific discoveries have revealed the power of gratitude. But actually, the science has been proving the relationship between gratitude and happiness and health for decades. And it was 1909 when Christian Larsen coined this term as a part of his understanding of metaphysical and psychological dimensions of grateful living. Affirmative thought, Larson reasoned, sets in motion unseen forces, and aids in creating a universe of good. Larson was born of Norwegian immigrant parents and was training for the Lutheran ministry when he found a Unitarian book that changed his life. He turned instead to write 40 books and many articles on the importance of gratitude, happiness, and service in the universe. The “Optimist Creed” is the name of his most famous book, the basis of the Optimists International organization, and is contained in these words:
“Promise Yourself… To be so strong that nothing can disturb your peace of mind. To talk health, happiness, and prosperity to every person you meet. To make all your friends feel that there is something in them. To look at the sunny side of everything and make your optimism come true. To think only of the best, to work only for the best, and to expect only the best. To be just as enthusiastic about the success of others as you are about your own. To forget the mistakes of the past and press on to the greater achievements of the future. To wear a cheerful countenance at all times and give every living creature you meet a smile. To give so much time to the improvement of yourself that you have no time to criticize others. To be too large for worry, too noble for anger, too strong for fear, and too happy to permit the presence of trouble. To think well of yourself and to proclaim this fact to the world, not in loud words, but in great deeds. To live in the faith that the whole world is on your side, so long as you are true to the best that is in you.”
― Christian D. Larson, The Optimist Creed
As I think about it, I wonder, do others see the connection between optimism and gratitude? … between our 1st principle of the “inherent worth and dignity of each human” and the Golden Rule?
To me, Reality + Optimistic Awareness = Gratitude
And the Inherent dignity and worth of each human and love = the Golden Rule
May we each take a moment and think of one person who did something wonderful, whom we have not yet thanked. Let us each write a note and send it their way– by whatever means.
Let us spread our magnificent gratitude. This focus will help to address our urgent concerns by empowering us each, and also, little by little correcting our beautiful and challenged world.
— Rev. Leland