The Ignatian daily Examen practice includes as one of the first steps giving thanks to God for the gifts of the day. We go through the events of the day that has just ended noticing all of the gifts we received that day. We are encouraged to be very concrete as we do this, recalling the cool breeze that bathed us, the taste of the honey on our toast, a unexpected smile or kind word, perhaps an act of patience on our part. We notice the gifts and give thanks.
I’ve come to believe that cultivating an attitude of gratitude is one of the most important things we can do. So many people (particularly in this country, which so prizes individual accomplishment and achievement) have a sense of entitlement about so many things. When you see everything as your entitlement, your due, it is it hard to do without things, and hard to share the things you have. But seeing everything as a gift for which to be grateful changes everything. Gratefulness helps strengthen our sense of connectedness to God and to each other.
Even if the examen is not a part of your daily prayer, consider taking a little intentional time before the end of the day to express gratitude for the gifts of that day. It can be a tremendously powerful practice.
P.S. One of my favorite websites is gratefulness.org. They envision “gratefulness as the core inspiration for personal change, international cooperation, and sustainable activism in areas of universal concern” and are dedicated to developing “a global community of people whose spiritual practice is grateful living.”