Monday, March 9, 2009

What Alternative to prayer exists for the non-believer?

I have been out of work for almost 4 months. It is the longest unemployment stint of my entire career, and it is taking it's toll on me and my family. I have acted as though my full time job now is to find a job, and have even taken the approach of putting on a suit and physically walking my resume' to job locations when I have not received a response to an email or online application. Every day, I visit all the job boards, check my emails for new job alerts, and keep track of my job applications diligently. This morning, I felt like I wanted some force more powerful than my own to help me. It is a very rare, and odd feeling, as I am an advocate of personal responsibility and I don't look to others to bail me out when times get tough. The desire to call on a higher power, I feel is natural to humans, and like many natural desires, we must wrestle with them, find substitutions for them, or fight them in order to remain happy. I don't know for sure, but I would guess that even the bible forbids the overuse of prayer for the self.

Over the past few years, I have had a revelation in thinking about gratitude. There is even a book that I recommend on the subject simply called "Thanks!" that evolved from a doctorate thesis of Robert Emmons, PhD. Because I do not have a personal relationship with any God, focusing on what I am grateful for has given me the comfort I was looking for. I thought about my wife, and my children, and how they are all healthy. I thought about my neighbors, who are 2 months behind on their mortgage, and I am current. I thought about the light that was beaming down from a bulb energized by an electric company that works flawlessly - the food I ate this morning, the car that I hop in and twist a key and it starts, being home and helping my 3 year old steer his bicycle around the block, the neighborhood I live in, the computer I am typing into, my fingers and hands that still work beautifully, the freedom I have to get into my car, and drive anywhere I want - there is an endless litany of things that I have to be grateful for.

So now when times get tough, I become thankful. Not only does this bring me tremendous internal comfort, it helps my family to see me with a smile on my face.

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