Keeping an Attitude of Gratitude

I’ve said this before many times–one of the best ways I know of to keep my sanity is to cultivate and keep an attitude of gratitude. Gratitude is a habit, just like anything else. Do something for at least 30 days, and boom–it becomes a habit. When we wake up in the morning, we can say, ‘oh, crap–another day.’ Or we can say, ‘fabulous! Another day!’

Even if we think we have nothing to be grateful for, we always do. We are breathing, aren’t we? I lost a dear friend of mine years ago. She had been battling leukemia for years, had a bone marrow transplant, and died much too young. She was a funny and loving woman with a wicked sense of humor. Her favorite saying was, ‘any day on this side of the grass is a good day.’ I’ve never forgotten her or this saying. My homage to her is to find something to be grateful for each day.

Gratitude is catching, too. When it rains, we can think ‘ugh, I hate rain!’ or we can think ‘woo-hoo–rain! Now I don’t have to mow the lawn!’ If we can just get ourselves in the habit of noticing what is around us, even little things can make us happy. It’s all in the way we look at things. When something bad happens, it isn’t fun, and we’ve all been there. If we can try to think ‘ok, so what can I take away from this? What did I learn?’ then there is something positive about it.

Every job interview I have ever had has included this question: “So, tell me about the bad jobs you’ve had and why.” I have to say that, although I have had pretty challenging jobs, they have all been good experiences. Why? Because I was forced to learn a basic principle about work and life in general: if you don’t like something, you have three choices–live with it, try to change it, or walk away. I have done all three with varying degrees of success. Additionally, I learned that it is wise to refrain from trashing your former job or boss–not only is it unprofessional, but it makes a would-be employer think twice about hiring you.

When my first marriage ended after 10 years, I was devastated. I didn’t see it coming, and it blindsided me. I called my parents and cried my eyes out. They were wonderfully understanding and soothing (even though they were not big fans of my first husband). When I calmed down, Mom said, “I know you feel just awful right now, but do you feel as bad as you did when Billie (one of my beloved cats) died?” I stopped crying instantly, and said, “NO!” and started laughing. It really put things into perspective. I came to realize that it was a gift to me (and probably my ex) to leave that marriage.

If it were not for that first marriage, I wouldn’t be married to the love of my life right now. I would not have learned the things I needed to, or grown into the person I am now. We all know that change is hard; changing habits are hard. But sticking with a new habit gets easier all the time.

If we are around negative people or situations, we don’t always have the choice of just walking away. But we do have a choice as to how we react. Making the choice to be happy and grateful, no matter what, is a decision that can change not only our outlook on life, but even our health. Each breath we take in and breathe out is a gift. We have no idea how many breaths we will have in this life, but we can choose to celebrate each one.

We all can develop and keep an attitude of gratitude and let that habit transform us. Live it, love it, enjoy it, and pass it on.

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