Invitation to Joy, Celebrating Life!

If I could do one simple thing today that would help me to be a happier and healthier person, would I choose it? What if that one thing not only made me happier and healthier but made the world a better place, would I believe it possible? It is possible. That one thing is to give thanks for the gifts of the moment, for the gifts of the day. 

Giving thanks was the recurring theme at my mom’s celebration of life. I don’t know when she started the habit of thanksgiving but I first noticed it when she was the age I am now, in her early sixties. Her habit of giving thanks gave her peace and joy, and somehow these were still with her on her dementia journey.

Several years ago, I started the practice of gratitude by naming that for which I am thankful in my evening prayers. It was my Taichi leader who first mentioned to me the importance of a gratitude journal in her life. She writes in her gratitude journal every evening and the following morning she reads her entry from the evening before.

Today is as good a day as any to expand the habit of giving thanks by beginning a gratitude journal. I will have to find my own rhythm. Maybe I will miss some days. It won’t be perfect. I hope that a practice of thankfulness will make thankfulness the lens through which I greet life, as it did my mother.  


The Thanksgiving Address is the central prayer and invocation for the Haudenosaunee (also known as the Iroquois Confederacy or Six Nations — Mohawk, Oneida, Cayuga, Onondaga, Seneca, and Tuscarora). It reflects their relationship of giving thanks for life and the world around them. The Haudenosaunee open and close every social and religious meeting with the Thanksgiving Address.”

Imagine beginning a day with this thanksgiving address, that acknowledges the abundance and generosity of creation, and Creator. The regular practice of this thanksgiving reminds me that we are all part of a benevolent, inter-connected world.

The Examen
Ignatius of Loyola lived in the 15th century Spain and was the founder of the Jesuits, an order of Catholic priests and brothers. (Pope Francis is probably the most well-known Jesuit today). Ignatius encouraged a prayer exercise which is called the Examen, short for examination of consciousness. The foundation of this prayer is to review the day in thanksgiving.

Gratitude Journaling:
When I look back over my day, I always find things for which I am thankful, and focusing on them gives me a hopeful perspective. Many people use prompts for journaling: who is a supportive person in my life, what is a good memory, what have I done for self-care, what gives me joy in the natural world.

This is a go-to Scripture for me when I need courage and hope. It clearly relates a thankful lens with peace of mind and a better world.
Philippians 4: 6-8
“Do not worry about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Finally, beloved, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is pleasing, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence and if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.”