Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Thankful, Grateful, Appreciative....Call it What You Want......Just Be It!!

Some people are always grumbling because roses have thorns; I am thankful that thorns have roses.  ~Alphonse Karr

            I had the opportunity to attend a writing conference a few month's back. The guest speaker during dinner was a well known author who has enjoyed some success in the world of writing. When I say success, picture Oprah's book club and #1 on the New York Times best seller's list with her first novel. As she began her speech to us that night, she spoke of a recent string of bad luck she and her family had been facing. When I say bad luck, think back to Job. Have a picture in your mind? Let's just say she gave him a run for his money. Every time you thought she was done with her list of bad things she would say "And then things got worse." So now I know what you're thinking. Jeez, what a depressing talk that must have been, and I'll admit there were tears running down my face by the end....but they were tears of laughter. 
          Her story was filled with humor, joy and an amazing gratitude for what was good in her life and honey I gotta tell ya, at that point there wasn't much. She was grateful for her friends, family, people wanting to come hear her speak, and the fact that she had more stories in her to tell. I walked away feeling completely uplifted by her outlook on life. I'm always humbled by people who focus on the good and never the bad. 
        One of my biggest pet peeves is people who habitually complain about their lives but in reality have nothing to complain about. The service was bad, traffic is awful, the weather is too hot, too cold, someone ate my porridge...okay, you get the picture. I'll be the first to admit that I've done it - we all have but if you can force yourself to stop and look around, you can always find something to be grateful for. I remember reading an article once on blessing your troubles. An example of this was being thankful for the bill you receive when your car needs to be fixed. The idea being that it meant you were lucky enough to have a car. Bless your heat bill, because it meant you had a warm house to live in. You get the idea.....

        A few years ago a good friend gave me a small notebook to use as a gratitude journal. Each day you write down 5 things for which to be thankful for. Some days what I write may be dramatic (We bought a house!) to the very simple (We went for ice cream on a hot day), but the point is, even on the hardest of days, there is always something to be found. I notice that the more days in a row I write something, the better my life seems. When things in life seem bad I go back and read over old entries and it’s amazing how quickly my perspective can change. Give it a try and see if you don't find the same thing.....and the next time you're tempted to complain about the thorns of life, take a deep breath and focus on the roses. 

The optimist sees the rose and not its thorns; the pessimist stares at the thorns, oblivious to the rose. - Kahlil Gibran


  1. You are so spot on with this! I saw Sarah Ban Breathnach on Oprah in the '90s when I was in a very ugly place in my life. She spoke about the Gratitude Journal and I went out and got one.
    I am here to tell you it completely changed my life.

    It makes perfect sense when you think about it. If you focus on 5 things your grateful for every day it shifts your focus.

    You are no longer stuck on what is wrong in your life but looking for what is right. In the beginning I would write 'I woke up breathing.' My dogs were always on the gratitude list and still are. (different dogs now)

    It is a habit I continue to this day. There are still days it is hard to find 5 things of substance. But, I know now how truly blessed I am and that gratitude is always the basis of my evening entry.

    Thanks for the post and I hope it spurs others onto starting their own Gratitude Journals!

  2. @ Barbara - Wow! Were you in my head while I was writing this?? Sarah Ban Breathnach is one of my favorites (my copy of Simple Abundance is falling apart I've used it so much.) And the idea of blessing your troubles came from one of her essays. :)

    My cats and Hubby always make my list no matter what (so sometimes it's 6 things). It's such a small thing to do but when someone is going through a rough time it can start to make such a difference.

    Thanks so much for sharing. :)

  3. Love this. It can be so easy to get wrapped up in the negative, but there are so many things we have to be grateful for (and that is not some kind of cliche that should be ignored). I do think that people do better in bad times when they can more easily recognize the good - small or big.

  4. so true. it's really easy to spot the hard and neglect the blessings. thanks for the reminder.

  5. I'll be the first to admit that I can complain like the best of them (I try my hardest not to)....but I am truly grateful for my son (whose birthday was yesterday) and my husband! Even though we have been going through a rough patch the last 3 years...we have leaned on each other to get through. We just keeping looking for the light at the end of the tunnel and know that someday we will get there.

  6. @ Brenna - I agree that it's easier to see the good during bad times. If you watch the news at all lately it seems to be nothing but bad times. I think that makes us reach out and grasp all the good that we can. :)

  7. @ Jenny - You are very welcome....thanks for stopping by!

  8. @ Jackie - I'm thankful for my nephew too and hope he had a great birthday. :) I know things have been tough but I love that you're still able to see the good and have faith that things will get better. Keep believing that. :)

  9. I totally agree. I laugh a lot about the mischief life gets up to - the things that fret me on any given day because my dad used to tell me - laugh, don't cry. So many REAL problems out there, you know. I see so many social ills that are not being addressed - kids with no homes, no support systems, young people suffering from terminal illnesses before their lives even have a chance to blossom. All these things and I am going to complain about not being able to buy pork sausages? No way. I am grateful for so many things and I like to remind myself of that every day. I do slip and do bitch sometimes, but one has to keep things in perspective!

  10. @ Trininista - We all slip sometimes because we're human (I love your obsession with pork sausages by the way :)) But as long as you can recognize when your perspective slips and pull yourself back - it's all good. Just watching the news in the morning can make you feel like your life is pretty darn good. Your Dad was a smart man.... :)

  11. @ Style Maniac - I love that quote too. Definitely all about perspective. Good quotes are one of my obsessions as well.....Mmm maybe a blog idea. :) Thanks for dropping by...

  12. Hey girl,
    I was sitting listening to that very same woman and thought she was remarkably positive for someone who had gone through as much she has.

    Good post my dear. I am thankful for meeting you.

  13. @ Jotter - That whole dinner was what I will remember most about that weekend. It gave me such a positive outlook on things and meeting you was icing on the cake. :)