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 gratitude.
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 blessings.”
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?

— Ed Hird is Rector at St. Simon’s Church North Vancouver , part of Anglican Mission in Canada. He is the author of Restoring Health:body, mind and spirit and Battle for the Soul of Canada.
-originally published in the October 2015 Light Magazine

70th  Cross


Peter Black said...

Thanks Ed. The chords of my heart vibrate in strong sympathy with what you share here. This morning my Thanksgiving-focused message at a seniors residence service was much on the healthful theme of gratitude and thanksgiving and the beneficial effects for our own lives as well for others around us.

I have to confess though, that for the majority of my adult years I've only occasionally gotten to experience a hearty belly laugh. Once in a while, though, I've virtually dissolved into a helpless heap behind the pulpit when a spontaneous comedic moment grabbed me. It's probably a psycho-neuro-physical thing (but don't tell the authorities eh! ;) ). ~~+~~

Lux G. said...

A positive attitude goes a long way. Tested and proven. :)

Carolyn R. Wilker said...

Ed,thanks for a timely post that reminds us to be thankful.

Peter, I can picture you laughing behind a pulpit.

Peter Black said...

Heh, Heh, Carolyn! I'm a smiling chuckler, but I harbour a secret yearn for a good ol' belly laugh. Those rare occasions can catch me at the most inappropriate times and settings. I've been rendered virtually helpless in public. Yes, imagine away! :)~~+~~

Glynis said...

I love this post, Ed! This has been part of what I share when I speak to women's (and other) groups. Laughter and joy; appropriate humour and sincere gratitude, has helped me over many a bumpy road. Like my fun-filled mama used to say - we'll be okay once we use up the kangaroo petrol (Peter might get that saying!) ;) Well done and nicely encouraging at this time of the year. Thanks, Ed.

David Kitz said...

I am sure Ed, that many are grateful at St. Simon's for your faithful service. Be blessed today.

Peter Black said...

I'm finally catching up on the past few days of postings and comments. Re. Glynis' "kangaroo petrol." Two aspects:
1. With the old British standard clutch change gearboxes, if you had old gasoline in your tank or if moisture had gotten into it the engine could misfire, causing the car to leap and lurch forward hence 'kangaroo petrol.'
2. With the same kind of gearbox, you might have the best of gasoline in tip-top condition, but if you didn't have the skill to operate and coordinate your use of the clutch and gearshift and accelerator, you could have an exaggerated (and highly embarrassing) leaping and lurching motion. (Hmm, and starting off on a steep hill was even worse, for timing your release of the handbrake got thrown into the mix!) Mem'ries! :)

Ed Hird+ said...

Thanks for the encouraging feedback :)

Ed Hird+

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