When November rolls around, most of us spend at least part of a day being grateful for blessings in our lives.
Gratitude, however, is not just a once-a-year thing. It is (or should be) a way of life.
Thousands of years ago, Cicero reportedly said “Gratitude is not only the greatest of virtues but the parent of all others.”
A myriad of studies have shown that grateful people are happier, less depressed, less stressed, and more satisfied with their lives and social relationships. Grateful people don’t have fewer difficulties in life – but they do have more positive ways of coping. Grateful people are able to grow from their experiences more easily than those who are ungrateful.
Gratitude is one of the best healers of a broken heart. I’ve been there. It works. After the death of my second daughter in 2005, I went on a previously scheduled humanitarian trip to Kenya. My grief was replaced by gratitude and love for others as I pulled parasitic worms out of children’s feet who had never worn shoes. I couldn’t feel sorry for myself as I saw huts made of elephant dung and helped in a school for girls whose students escaped arranged marriages as 10 year-olds, or ran away from abusive homes.
Being grateful – and expressing that gratitude – changes something inside you. Focusing on what you are grateful for, even – or ESPECIALLY – on a bad day can bring peace and happiness. Writing in a ”Gratitude Journal” has become a popular way to focus on being grateful on a daily basis. You can even use an app on your phone, like the one mentioned in this touching article about the Goade family.
William Arthur Ward said: “Gratitude can transform common days into thanksgivings, turn routine jobs into joy, and change ordinary opportunities into blessings.”
Here are some of the things I am truly grateful for:
*My husband, Greg. We have been married for 27 1/2 years. Our life is TOTALLY different than we planned and oh, what an adventure it has been! He is my best friend and biggest supporter. We make a great team.
*My kids. All of them. I have learned things from them I could not have learned any other way. For example, I did not know that walls made such good places to wipe one’s boogers. Or that teenage girls could out-belch teenage boys. Or that missing fingers made one a “bad baby” in a Russian orphanage. Or how good I would get at IEP’s over 25 years of doing them. Or how fun teenagers can be – and now the grandkids! I admire their resilience in overcoming past difficulties and their willingness to live life fully. I love them.
*People willing to mentor me. I’ve been blessed to have many people who were willing to teach me. From midwifery to politics, from parenting to blogging, I’ve been the grateful recipient of much shared wisdom.
*Books. I love, love, love to read. This year (finally!), I also discovered the joys of digital audio books. Between audio and hard copy, I’ve been able to “consume” 100 books. Only 2 were fiction. All were enjoyable. How grateful I am to live in an era when books are readily available.
*Utah. I am grateful for purple mountains majesty that I can see every day. I am grateful I have been able to go to 28 out of 29 counties in the last couple of years and meet
good great people in all of them. I am grateful for a state that is fiscally prudent, that works hard to keep government limited and that looks to the future for our kids and grandkids. I love this state.
*Friends. Philosopher Baltasar Gracian said “True friendship multiplies the good of life and divides its evils.” I am so grateful for the many true friends in my life. They laugh with me, they cry with me, they are willing to give honest feedback and they share their lives with me. I truly believe God meant for us to have friends and I am blessed with many!
*Faith. I am grateful for the steadying influence my faith provides. I am grateful that it helped me through burying three daughters and that it provides a solid foundation to my life.
*Food. I am grateful we live in a land of abundance. I can grow and store and cook and shop with an endless variety to choose from. Some of the children we brought home from orphanages had never had fruit. Some of the older children ate meat only once a year. None of them had ever been full. I am so grateful there is enough and to spare.
*Indoor plumbing, heating and air conditioning. Yes indeedy. I am grateful for those marvels.
*Social Media – I am grateful for the ways it lets me connect – Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Instagram – even Google+. Oh, and blogs. Blogs are pretty cool. What a wonderful time we live in.
*Politics. It’s messy and sometimes infuriating. It’s boisterous and at other times, calm and unruffled. Our country boasts the best system of government in the world. Our state is the best managed in the nation. I’m grateful for that. I am grateful for the political process. I am grateful for the many people who get involved for all the right reasons. I am grateful for the relationships and teamwork that move good policy forward. I am grateful for those who want to make a difference.
Live. Love. Laugh. Be grateful.
And unlock the fullness of life.