Being Thankful is a Choice

That is a picture of pure gratitude. Trey had just completed a trek through many “human” sites that just could not be missed. It was warm, he needed to walk on concrete for a good part of the walk and he is no spring chicken. So, when he reached these water jets he simply stood among them with a look of pure gratitude face. Dogs supposedly do not experience emotions, but can anyone looking at this picture say Trey is not feeling thankful?

Everyone in a 12-step program knows that an attitude of gratitude is part of a strong recovery. Without the ability to both identify and appreciate what you have, recovery will very likely be short-lived and frustrating. Newcomers are always urged to appreciate the positives in their lives.

I have been recovering for a good number of years. And so I have gratitude completely nailed down. I can easily live my life focused on all my blessings. Well, I can be thankful. I can feel grateful  for what I have, even for the negative aspects of my life.

Yes, I certainly can be, but in all truth, there are many times I am not. And it took someone else to cut through my selfish attitude before I could see it. This person is not from the same country as I am. She is successful at what she does. How exactly she was able to pass on the message of my less than thankful attitude was pretty straight forward.

She lives in an apartment with two maybe three rooms. When I mentioned I had six rooms in my house she simply asked, “What do you use all those rooms for?” Now I could recite how we use those rooms but she was able to get me wondering if there really is a need to live in such a large house. (Actually our house is small by US standard).

Her income is not above average, her overhead costs are high and staples are more expensive where she lives. One time I wondered out loud how she was able to “put up” with those conditions.  Her answer was fairly simple – it is the way things are and she does not need a lot of “stuf” to be happy. OK that stung. Was she really saying that I have too much “stuff” in my life? When we spoke further about my having five children and twelve grandchildren, she said what a great thing that must be to have a large family. I thought you should see all the Christmas and birthday gifts. But I did get it; my gratitude tank was rather empty.

So what did I do to change my attitude? First I tried to simply make a list of everything I owned or had in my house. Have to admit, there was a lot but after a while I stopped. I began to realize how much I needed to get rid of as I had no need for it. That did not help my attitude.

However, the next two things did. I began to write down one thing per day something for which I am thankful. Only one thing and that is it. Then I went to God in prayer and thanked him for whatever the blessing, starting first with his Son, whose death has guaranteed heaven for me.

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 At first it was easy, as I quickly moved through the good things in my life. And believe me, there were and still are a lot. Eventually I began thanking God for some of the negative things in my life. While it may not make sense, some negatives are blessings. I will let figure that out for yourself.

What I finally discovered is that a lack of gratitude comes when I am concentrating on others. I cannot be thankful when I compare myself to others because there will always be something for which I can scream “Unfair!” But thanks to my friend, I now put into practice what I have always known but just never did it.

Gratitude, we all need to have an ample supply in our lives. Sometimes it is hard to find and a chore to keep alive. Actually that is because gratitude, being thankful, is a choice. A choice we need to keep on making day by day. Sound familiar?

Come back sometime and share some of your gratitude. I will wait you.

One comment on “Being Thankful is a Choice

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