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An Examination of Consciousness: Recognizing Goodness

November 26, 2014 — by Per Christensson

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"What do I dwell upon throughout the course of each day? To what am I giving my attention, my life, my concern, my thought, my energy? Where is my heart throughout each day? What are the emotions I most commonly experience? What am I dwelling on?"

I came across these questions in studying St. Ignatius' "Examination of Consciousness" during my annual retreat a few weeks ago. They are great questions to ask ourselves. The goal, according to St. Ignatius, is to reorient and even retrain ourselves to be grateful.

Daily life often leads us to get frustrated with things that are imperfect and undone. By recognizing and holding onto experiences of goodness, we become more aware of the positive things in life. This provides us with a disposition of thankfulness. As we become more thankful, our attitudes improve, and so do our relationships with others and with God.

While I am not Catholic, I find great wisdom in St. Ignatius' words. I can speak from experience that his advice has helped me become more thankful every day. By consciously looking for and recognizing experiences of goodness, I have found that life holds many good things I didn't realize before.

Thanksgiving provides us with an opportune time to pause and reflect on the many things for which we are thankful. But of course, we don't need to wait until Thanksgiving each year. Every day holds many good things for which we can give thanks. Recognizing these things is a blessing in itself.