Thank you for staying with your American Mussar practice long enough to get to Gratitude. Mussar is about taking action, and because you are taking action, you are making small changes in your Soul.
Gratitude is the Soul Trait that teaches how to recognize the good in any situation. One might think it is easy to be grateful in good situations. Not necessarily. Sometimes when something good happens, we look for the catch or hidden meaning, or we are just in the habit of waiting for the other shoe to drop. Gratitude reminds us to give thanks for the good in our life.
Complacency also can lead to a lack of gratitude. We take the good things in life for granted, such as our home, friends and even being alive. Sometimes people diagnosed with a terminal illness say they savor every day. Wouldn’t it be great to feel that way without having cancer?
Mussar also teaches that we should find the good in bad situations. For example, at the time the loss of a job may feel terrible and scary. Yet it may offer opportunities to change career, spend more time with family, or get back in shape.
The goal of the soul trait is to become mindful of all the good in our life, and to find that good in any situation.
Too Little Gratitude: Despondent
Too Much Gratitude: Complacent
American Mussar practice has three parts: a morning mantra, daily actions, and journaling. If you haven’t done so already, watch the video above.
Write the following mantra on an index card, and place it by your bedside
Give thanks for the good and the bad.
In the morning, recite the phrase out loud several times and contemplate the meaning. This will frame your thoughts for the day. Pay attention to times when your Gratitude Soul Trait comes into play.
If you tend towards too little Gratitude, focus on saying something positive before you say anything negative.
If you tend towards too much Gratitude, practice Enthusiasm by taking action. It may be that Humility or Honor are out of balance. Focus on taking action to take care of yourself.
You don’t need to do anything dramatic – just take a small step outside of your comfort zone.
A gratitude journal has been shown to make people happier and less stressed because they focus on the positive instead of the negative in their lives. If you do not have a regular journaling practice, take a few minutes to write down the things you are grateful for at the end of each day in your Mussar Journal.
This Gratitude Practice is part of the 13 Week American Mussar Cycle. You an purchase the entire cycle by clicking here