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...over-educated and under-experienced, or so they say...

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Attitude Of Gratitude

"Attitude Of Gratitude" is a phrase one of my wacky new agie friends and her husband loved to say all the time.    Something good would come their way or they'd make some kind of purchase they'd been working toward for quite some time and they'd turn around and say something like, "It's all about the attitude of gratitude, man.  When you're grateful for what you have, The Universe gives you more because The Universe KNOWS you're going to be grateful for that too!"

Now, I never really questioned their thought process in front of them (mostly because I was always happy to see them being grateful for what "The Universe" had given them), but it seemed to me that there was a flaw in their logic.  I'm pretty sure the starving people in Africa are grateful when they finally get to eat something, and I'm also sure they're uncertain when they may have their next meal so I'm not sure the thought process of being grateful for what you have been given automatically means you'll be given more.  But I do believe there is power in what my friends called the Attitude Of Gratitude, but I believe it is a more personal and internal power -- one that heals and brings joy to the life of the grateful person, not necessarily through material or physical things, but through one's self-awareness or one's spiritual existence, if you will.

I remember another friend of mine going through a particularly dark period in her life.  Every where she turned something was going terribly terribly wrong, and it wasn't long before depression and bitterness took over her entire being.  Every word that came out of her mouth was dark and hateful, every tear that she shed was the tear of the self-absorbed victim as opposed to true expression of grief, and no matter what I said, no matter how I tried to turn her eyes toward something more positive, some form of hope, she shot me down with more hateful words.  Finally I asked her to at least do one thing, to lay down in her bed that night and say thank you for something.  I told her if she can think of one thing to be thankful for then she needs to say thank you out loud for that one thing and then think of another.  And I told her to start small.  I told her to start with the basics, like being thankful for her bed and being thankful for her clothes.  And I promised her, that once she started the list, eventually it would branch out to things she realizes she has and has never truly been thankful for.  And I also promised, if she did this, she would probably feel the first sense of joy she'd had in months.

She went home and she did it.  She continued to do it daily for weeks and eventually those things that made her so bitter and so angry and so depressed, even though they were still there, even though they hadn't vanished, had very little power over her life and her own personal sense of well being.  And to this day, she's one of the strongest people I know and has mastered the art of finding something to be grateful for even in the midst of what appears to be Hell.  There may not be more "things" around the corner, but there is healing and there is joy in expressing the Attitude Of Gratitude.

We all have dark times.  I've had many, I'm going through one right now, and I suspect I'll have many more between now and the hour of my death.  But even in the darkest of times, much like my friend there, I have to take a moment and start with the basics and say:

Thank you for this bed I'm laying on.  Thank you for this apartment.  Thank you for the clothes I have.  Thank you for the food in my kitchen.  Thank you for the job I have that pays me enough to ensure I have these things.  Thank you for the car that gets me there.  Thank you for my daughter and how wonderful she is and how much she loves me.  Thank you for the love I experience in my relationship with her.  Thank you for the chance and the joy of being her mother.  Thank you for my parents.  Thank you for the love they gave and continue to give to me and the hard hours they spent working their whole lives to make sure my brother and I had everything we needed to become successful in our own adult lives.  Thank you for my brother.  Thank you for giving me a sibling that understands me like no other and has spent countless hours making me laugh through the years when I would otherwise sit down and cry.  Thank you for giving me a confidante in him that I have had nowhere else.  Thank you for his wife, thank you for giving him a wife that loves him and cares for him in the most beautiful way.  Thank you for their beautiful son that brings them so much joy.  Thank you for my closest friends.  Thank you for giving me friends that would come to pull me from the fires of Hell if they had to.  Thank you for allowing me to experience truly good people in a world that seems so dark sometimes.  Thank you for giving me hope, that everything works together for good, that everything will be okay.  Thank you for giving me strength to move when I really feel like I can't keep going. Thank you for giving me a sense of wisdom when everything seems to make no sense at all.  Thank you for giving me a sense of peace when everything around me is storming.  Thank you for giving me everything I need, physically and spiritually to survive this world, and thank you for giving me a sense of accomplishment through each and every life experience I encounter.  Thank You.

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