Maria’s Sunday Paper: These Are the Things I’m Grateful For
On this Sunday after Thanksgiving, I find myself reflecting. I am reflecting on the larger world we share. I am reflecting on our country and all that is going on here at home. And, I am reflecting on my own, smaller, world, right here within myself.
Through reflection, I find that I am able to be both optimistic and deeply troubled by the state of our world. I am troubled by the violence that exists in our society, by the state of men and women’s relationships right now, and by the hopelessness that so many feel about our politics and our national discourse. But, I am also optimistic that we are in the midst of a national awakening. I believe that we are in an awakening about our politics, about power, about the realities of sexual harassment, about economic inequality, and about the importance of having a free press that can do its job.
I have found that in times like this, it is more important than ever to have a daily practice of reflection, prayer and gratitude. I know it helps me get above the noise and stay there for the better part of my day. It’s what helps me respond to the world from a place of calm and centeredness. I really loved French President Emmanuel Macron’s recent comments to Time Magazine about why he doesn’t tweet or follow himself online. “To be president, you need some distance from events, from the permanent flows of news and reactions,” he said. How true is that?
So, on this Sunday—the Sunday after Thanksgiving— I am taking time to reflect and to do something that I do every morning: give thanks.
Each morning when I open my eyes, I say, “Thank you, God, for the gift of this new day.” I say thank you for my health (which I’m now committed to prioritizing in a big way). I say thank you for my children (who I’m especially thankful to have at home with me right now for the holiday weekend. I’m not going to focus on the fact that they’ll leave the house again soon, which always rips my heart out). And, I say thank you for my faith (which gets me through everything, including times when I’m lonely, sad, disillusioned or scared).
I also say thank you each morning for my home—my physical home and, more importantly, the home I’ve built inside of myself. I thank God that so many people have helped me build, then rebuild, the foundation inside of myself. That includes friends (like Nadine, Cristina, and my pastor, Msgr. Torgerson, all whose voices we share with you in The Sunday Paper today). It also includes total strangers who have become friends. I am so grateful that today, my foundation is stronger, more stable, more secure, and more centered than it’s ever been.
After I say thank you for these gifts each morning (and believe me, they are gifts), my feet hit the floor. I then make super strong coffee, sit down to meditate, and then set out to face the world.
The truth is, none of us ever know what the day will bring. But, I’ve come to believe that if we start each day from a place of gratitude, then it’s bound to go a bit better than it would if we didn’t. So, on this day, I give thanks again for all of the above.
I’m going to try and not stress about the upcoming holiday madness. I’m going to try and keep it all in perspective. Keeping things in perspective is within my control. It’s also within yours. Remember, no one has everything. No one gets a pass from suffering. So many have much less. So many are dealing with a fatal illness or dashed dreams.
In last week’s Sunday Paper, we asked you to share what you are grateful for this year. What struck me was that so many of you said you were grateful for the types of things I mentioned above. (You can read a few of your submissions below.) No one mentioned the new iPhone X. No one mentioned their new red sole shoes. Almost everyone mentioned their love of family, their love of country, their health, and their friends.
Our culture may try to get us to believe that our happiness lies in accumulating stuff, likes, and clicks. But the truth is, it lies in what so many of us take for granted: our family, our friends, our faith, and our country.
I’m so grateful that I’ve learned the benefit of practicing gratitude on a daily basis. I’m so grateful that I’ve slowed down my mornings so I can be more reflective, more conscious, and more centered. I’m so grateful that I can pray for others, for my country, and for myself.
I’m so grateful that I’ve come to learn these truths and to live them. I hope I can inspire you on this morning to do the same.
Want to receive Maria’s perspective, as well as other inspirational content, in your inbox each week? Sign up to receive Maria’s Sunday Paper newsletter by clicking HERE.
P.S. For more of what “I’ve Been Thinking,” I hope you’ll check out my upcoming book, “I’ve Been Thinking…: Reflections, Prayers and Meditations for a Meaningful Life.” It’s available for pre-order now. I was inspired to write it thanks to all of the positive feedback I receive from you, readers of The Sunday Paper, each week. So, thank you. I love being in community with you.
VIEWS ABOVE THE NOISE
A VIEW TO FEED YOUR SOUL
THANKFUL FOR SPIRITUAL GUIDANCE: Before the holiday, I had a chance to sit down with my pastor, Msgr. Lloyd Torgerson from St. Monica’s Church in LA. Msgr. Torgerson’s messages always fill me up and make me feel whole. His message for me this Thanksgiving weekend was no exception.
A VIEW TO FEED YOUR MIND
GIVE THANKS FOR YOUR MIRACULOUS BRAIN: My dear friend, Nadine Schiff, sent me this beautiful poem as a birthday gift. She knows me so well. She wrote, “I was thinking of you and all you have taught me about my brain. All the miraculous things it does. And out came this poem.” I hope you enjoy her words as much as I do.
A VIEW TO FEED YOUR SPIRIT
BE THANKFUL FOR HEALING MUSIC: On many mornings, I like to start my day listening to the beautiful voice of Snatam Kaur, an American singer, songwriter, and author who performs hypnotic, new age Indian devotional music. So today, I thought I would share with you one of my favorite songs by her, “By Thy Grace.”
A VIEW TO MAKE YOU FEED YOUR BODY
HEALING THROUGH UNIVERSAL AWARENESS: The holidays can make us all feel a bit more anxious. The filmmakers behind a new film called “Angst” want to bring hope to those who suffer from anxiety and remind those feel it that we’re not alone.
THANKFUL FOR OUR ARCHITECTS OF CHANGE: This week, we honor all of the individuals who have been designated Architects of Change by their friends, family, peers and community members through our special Facebook campaign with Ford Motor Company. We’ve been asking you to shout out someone you know who is Moving Humanity Forward, and we’ve been so inspired by the people we’ve been introduced to so far. People like Mere McDonald of the organization Lunch Bunch, who wants to ensure everyone has access to a nutritious meal. And Wanda Mora and her #PuertoRicoStrong campaign. Bravo to you all! In the weeks to come, we will feature some of these individuals as Architects of Change in The Sunday Paper. Do you want to nominate someone? Watch our video above to learn more, then tag them on Facebook .
NEWS ABOVE THE NOISE
1. HOMAGE TO A BELOVED POET AND DEAR FRIEND: One of the voices I’m most grateful for is Mary Oliver. I started my week of gratitude by calling her to thank her for her friendship, her voice, her observations, and her truths.Then, my friend sent me this piece about her from “The New Yorker.” It’s worth reading with a cup of tea or coffee. .
2. CHARLIE ROSE FIRED FROM CBS NEWS, DROPPED FROM PBS TALK SHOW: We’re in the midst of a new conversation about sexual harrassment–across every line of business. I thought Rose’s CBS co-hosts, Gayle King and Norah O’Donnell, were powerful in their comments about the allegations. They said they would be listening and learning in the days to come, and so should we. It’s best that we all do a lot of listening and a lot of reflecting during this time.
3. HOSPITAL CUTS OPIOID PRESCRIPTIONS, AND PATIENTS ARE HAPPIER: If you or someone you love is headed to surgery, read this NBC News piece about a Chicago hospital that’s seeing great success with its new pain management protocol.
4. STUDY SHOWS DOG LOVERS ENJOY LONGER LIVES: Good news for all us who have a canine member of the family. New research published in Scientific Reports this week reveals that people who own dogs have a lower risk of death due to cardiovascular disease and other causes.
5. HOLOCAUST SURVIVOR OFFERS SECRET TO HAPPINESS AND LONGEVITY: In spite of all the tragedies 92-year-old Ed Mosberg has experienced, including the loss of his entire family in concentration camps, he continues to celebrate life. His story will lift you up this morning.
My friend Mitra Rahbar, a spiritual teacher for more than 30 years, recently emailed me to share a copy of her poem “Giving Thanks.” I thought it would be nice to share with you an excerpt of it today. You can find the full version in her book, “Miraculous Silence: A Journey to Illumination and Healing Through Prayer.” Enjoy.
INSPIRATION FOR THE WEEK AHEAD
SHOP OUR STORE: SEE OUR COLLECTION
Get Empowered. Pass It Forward.
We’re so excited to announce that we’ve added a few new items to our shop! Check out our stylish apparel to fight Alzheimer’s, created in partnership with Art With a Purpose. You can also pre-order Maria’s new book “I’ve Been Thinking…: Reflections, Prayers and Meditations for a Meaningful Life.” Visit the shop on MariaShriver.com to learn more!