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Friday, October 09, 2015
An attitude of Gratitude: Thanksgiving -HIRD
by Reverend Dr. Ed Hird
Life is messy. Family is messy. Marriage is messy. Church is
messy. How do we navigate through the
complexities of daily life? A key to healthy sailing through life’s storms is
The 19th century Cambridge resident, Charles Simeon, once
said: “What ingratitude there is in the human heart.” It is so easy to end up
as a complaining, grumbling person when things don’t go our way. The best
therapy for a complaining or fearful attitude is to switch from grumbling to
thankfulness, from moaning to praising, from bellyaching to belly laughing.
Dr. Patrick Dixon commented that someone who can never laugh
is as emotionally imprisoned as someone who can never cry. Dr. Dixon notes that
laughter alters the levels of various “stress” hormones such as cortisol,
dopamine, adrenaline and growth hormone – all released when we are tense,
working hard, worried or afraid. In typical office stress, all the hormones are
released but no exercise follows and the body suffers. We develop stomach
ulcers, arteries clog up, we become irritable and develop a host of other
problems – all because the body is pumping out hormones we don’t need.
Laughter, says Dr. Dixon, shuts down these hormone levels, keeping them low.
Interestingly, endorphin levels (natural morphine-like substances) seem to
remain the same, following laughter.
More and more research is coming to the forefront, showing
that gratitude and joyful laughter are connected with healthy living, while
grumbling is connected with diseased living. Dr. E. Stanley Jones once said:
“If you are unhappy at home, you should try to find out if your wife hasn’t
married a grouch.” Worry, fear, and anger are the greatest disease causers. We
need to prune from our lives all tendencies to fault-find, blame and put down
others. Instead we need to daily practice the healing therapy of “counting our
I would encourage you to take 10 minutes today to write down
10 gifts that you have received in your life that you are thankful for. It
might be your children, your work, your sense of humour, your spouse, your
parents, the trees and mountains, or the country of Canada. Then practice
saying thank you for these wonderful gifts. It always helps to have someone to
whom to say “thank you”. As the source
of all good gifts, it only makes sense to express appreciation to the Creator
of this mysterious universe. As someone once said, happiness is seeing a sunset
and knowing who to thank.
I am more convinced than ever that each of us were born to
be thankful. Ingratitude is like putting sawdust into our car engines. Through
an attitude of gratitude, we are protecting ourselves from countless diseases
that could otherwise come our way. Our immune system is a remarkably delicate mechanism
that just cannot handle acidic emotions like bitterness, rage, or malice. I
challenge you therefore to find out for yourself whether an attitude of
gratitude will improve your emotional and physical health. Over our kitchen
table is a wall plaque with the words: “in everything, give thanks.”
The church where I am Rector, St. Simon’s Church North
Vancouver community was birthed in 1945 70 years ago in the Deep Cove Fire
Hall. Many churches in the Seymour/Deep Cove area no longer exist. One of the keys to St. Simon’s ongoing
vitality is the gift of gratitude. God has taught us that all things work
together for the good for those who love the Lord. He has taught us that what
was sometimes meant for evil, God means for good, even for the saving and helping
of many other people.
This Harvest Thanksgiving Oct 11th, the St. Simon’s
NV community will celebrate its 70th anniversary with a joint 10 am service,
followed by a complimentary barbeque.
May God give each of us the strength to develop an attitude
of gratitude. Gratitude is the key to
everything healthy in our lives. What
are you grateful for on this Harvest Thanksgiving weekend?