The Need to Be Grateful

Psalm 145

Did you know that our brains have a negativity bias? According to recent neuroscience research, the human brain gathers strength around fearful, negative, or problematic situations. This tendency means that we must intentionally savor any loving, positive, or unproblematic event for at least 15 seconds to offset the negative. Only then can the positive access our implicit memory and feed our attitudes and moods.

The psalmist, who spends twenty-one consecutive verses dwelling on God’s goodness, recognizes how important it is for us to consider this. The truth the psalmist admits in verse 3, God’s greatness can’t be grasped, doesn’t stop our poet from trying.

Human hearts need to be grateful for our unconditionally loving God who saves us from our darkness—for at least 15 seconds. When we feel this gratitude, we feed our love for God and our desire to belong to our Creator and be part of God’s people.

Savor the days and moments that fill you with grace, love, and the fullness of life. When we remember and celebrate such experiences they transform us, preparing us to be part of God’s work of restoring the world. Yet, we don’t receive those moments automatically. It’s an intentional choice to open ourselves to God’s deep joy.

So notice the moments that pour joyful life into you, the moments when you stop holding your breath and take a deep one instead. Find yourself transformed so you will work with God in renewing all things.

Source: Richard Rohr, The Art of Letting Go: Living the Wisdom of Saint Francis (Sounds True, 2010), audiobook edition.


What practices and habits could help you experience God’s great joy? What practices could your community adopt to experience this joy as well?


Loving God, remind me again of how your grace and hope fill me up. As I experience your healing presence, may my gratitude linger and make me a useful partner in your redeeming work. Amen.

This post originally appeared in Volume 27.1 of Reflections.

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