Have you ever noticed how so much of the fabric of society is underpinned by the Golden Rule? The ability to respectfully be aware of others and act on this awareness creates the possibility of peace instead of a wholly selfish society where everyone is only looking out for themselves.
But what is it about doing to others as you would have them do to you that makes this idea so foundational to harmony – not just in our day to day lives but also in our inner being? Many researchers have been looking at this very question, and new information is regularly being shared about the importance of altruism, happiness, and gratitude – especially as it pertains to establishing better health in people.
But there is an opposite side to this “coin,” too, which suggests a link between ingratitude and unhappiness. I was interested to learn that less happy people are more apt to make materialistic purchases, but that gratitude can break this habit. Instead of remaining on a downward spiral of unhappiness and trying to assuage it with more “retail therapy,” gratitude can reduce the impulse to buy. This reduction does away with negative feelings attached to this impulse. Expressing greater gratitude then can improve financial and emotional health, and learning and practicing this from an early age can be a great benefit to individuals and to society.
Of course, being grateful can take different forms, and many, like me, find that a divine basis for thankfulness can have a particularly strengthening effect. This is accomplished by turning from whatever material predicament we are facing and finding a deeper understanding of our wholly spiritual nature as God’s creations.
As an example of just how powerful that can be, a friend of mine found that this kind of gratitude enabled her to find healing during a time when her knee was so sensitive that she could barely walk. At first she found she was entirely focused on what she couldn’t do because of the pain connected with any movement. But praying with some ideas she loved and felt had a spiritual basis – “Action expresses more gratitude than speech” and “Gratitude is much more than a verbal expression of thanks” – reminded her that what she actually needed was to change her thinking. So she started prayerfully expressing gratitude for her true identity as actually spiritual each moment she found herself pain-free. Soon she was free of pain for two hours a day, then three hours a day, until finally she was totally pain-free. She had changed her thought, focused on why she could be unconditionally grateful, and had found healing once her thought was freed from being focused on the physical.
Those quotes on gratitude are from a favorite book of mine, Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures. Its author, Mary Baker Eddy, reasoned that the quality of gratitude expressed is just as important as expressing gratitude in the first place. Based on her study of the Bible and her broader research into the relationship between thought and health, she concluded that our position while communing with God shouldn’t come from a stance of seeking wealth, or recognition, or even knowledge, but how Mary Magdalene, a follower of Jesus, expressed it in reaching out to Jesus “…from the summit of devout consecration, with the oil of gladness and the perfume of gratitude…”
Imagine if gratitude exuded from you as if it were a perfume – its sweetness and charity could sweep away bitterness, hurt, and unhealthy attitudes, and help form the basis of a world ruled by the Golden Rule.
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