By Fr. Bjorn, OES (This post appears on his personal blog, The Tiniest Hermit)
One of the core practices of any monastic life is that of gratitude. The regular practice of taking inventory of and recognizing all that we have to be grateful for is one of the direct causes of a deep and abiding joy in our lives.
The monastic practice of gratitude is not just about giving thanks for all that is going right in the life of the monastic. Things such as change, emotion and life experience are all causes for the monastic to give thanks, but these are not always positive things. Change can be painful, emotions can be uncomfortable and life experiences that shape who we are can be troublesome. Giving thanks for both good and happy things as well as difficult things is a discipline that takes time to master, just as any monastic discipline takes time to accomplish effectively.
On the front page of the OES website is a video from TED concerning joy and gratitude. The monk, David Steindl-Rast lists a few things that mark what we ought to be grateful for, and the thing that sticks out for me is that anything that I didn't earn is something I ought to be grateful for (this covers a great many things in my life).
So, dear readers, I encourage you to take stock of all the things in your life that you have to be grateful for. Take time out of your day to inventory and then give thanks for what you believe is a gift, even for menial things like the meals you eat. You may find that over time, you are more joyful by default.
If you'd like to watch the video about joy and gratitude, it can be found under our "Featured Faith Talks" section on the homepage at http://eremiticservants.org
Reflections from the monks and nuns of OES.