Sunday, November 18, 2007

Attitude of Gratitude

Published November 18, 2007
St. George Spectrum & Daily News

Back in August of this year, I found myself in a very peculiar situation. I was lying, flat on my back, my trusty hiking backpack beneath me, while the waters of the Virgin River rushed over my uncoordinated body. A concerned Englishman named Paul, my hiking partner for the day, hovered over me like a kind hearted nature lover observing a stranded beetle. As he helped me to my feet, he asked whether I wished I had chosen a different hike; after all, it was my third fall of the day. I shrugged my shoulders, chuckled a little, and said, "Aw, I haven't broken any bones, so I figure it's good."

Paul observed me, dumbfounded, and asked in his very British way (that's the way of people who eat their dinners in undercooked pastry and call it pudding) how I managed to keep such a positive attitude. My response was immediate and enthusiastic: "I keep a gratitude journal."

With Thanksgiving just a few days away, I thought I would share with my readers what I shared with Paul. Every day, I pull out my trusty gratitude journal and jot down 4 or 5 things for which to be grateful. I've kept my journal for nearly a year, and I'm happy to say it's done amazing things for me. For instance, when Paul inadvisably led me to a deeper section of river and the current became so strong we were both swept off our feet for a few terrifying moments, I didn't let it get me down. Later that night, I made note #7 on the gratitude list for the day. "I'm grateful I didn't drown, ha ha." Indeed.

Rereading entries from past months shows me that anyone and everyone can find something for which to be grateful every single day. Whether it's an entry as poignant as, "I'm grateful this morning wasn't quite so bad," or one as random as, "I'm grateful for my turtle!" it's something, you know? I've found gratitude in situations both mundane and dramatic. Here are a few you can borrow if you need some to get started. I mean, you're all grateful my life is going well, aren't you?

"I'm grateful for my CAR PAYMENT!" -- If you had to drive what I drove for most of 2006, you'd be more than happy to fork out the money for a minivan that runs.

"I'm grateful I had a good time, even if it was a little strange." -- First post-divorce Singles dance. I danced with a nice man. He probably fought in the war next to my grandpa, but he was nice.

"I'm grateful I'm not as sore as I thought I'd be." -- Entry after my Half Dome hike. I thought I wouldn't be able to move. Turns out, I could wiggle my toes.

"I'm grateful for tough days at work that help me appreciated my own children." --It's the days when you walk into your bathroom to find Mary Kay lipstick smeared across the toilet seat that this entry comes in handy.

"I'm grateful we didn't die while Carla was driving." --My sister drove the wrong way down the street in Vegas. I don't like to talk about it.

"I'm grateful for EIGHT HOURS OF SLEEP!" -- I'm having this one framed.

"I'm grateful the kids took on dish duty without complaint." -- I'm putting this one up next to that one.

It's not hard once you get started. My gratitude journal has become a trusted friend to me. When something good happens, I look forward to the moment I can write it down. When I have a very bad day, I look forward to writing my gratitude list even more. There really is nothing like finding something to smile about on a very bad day.

Seriously...she's an awesome turtle.


Anonymous said...

Very thoughtfull post on gratitude. It should be very much helpfull

Karim - Mind Power