Like other quarterly tax payers, I recently sent in my final contribution for 2011. I put a Love Stamp on the envelope.

That never would have happened in the past. I would have fussed and fretted and grudgingly written out my check.

Although I grew up with constant messages to be thankful and appreciative, those feelings were not familiar friends. Most of the time, I’d compare myself to others and I always came up short.

My classmates were more talented, more attractive, more intelligent. Other people had houses and cars that were far cooler than anything I owned.

The only time I came close to being thankful was when I’d hear a story of tragedy or misfortune. Whew, I’d think, at least I’m not a starving orphan in Africa. Whew, the tornado missed our town.

Stuff like that.

During an especially dark and difficult period of my life, I was horrified to discover some dreadful personal behavior. When my teenaged daughter would arrive home from school, I would begin to list all the mishaps that had occurred during her absence.

Then one day, I heard myself. I felt remorseful and was determined to change.

I came up with a plan. “Let’s make a pact to tell each other three great things that happened during the day as soon as you get home.”

That sounds like such a simple thing, but what happened next was nothing short of miraculous. For starters, I had to pay attention.

But that wasn’t the biggest change. Suddenly, I found myself purposely making sure that I had good things to report.

My focus shifted and before I knew it, good things were happening that I hadn’t consciously instigated myself.

That was only the beginning. I discovered that when I tapped into genuine gratitude, I began to uncover resources that had been hiding in plain sight.

This was heady stuff. For the first time in memory, I began to love my life. I stopped comparing myself to other people.

Gratitude knocked self-pity off its pedestal.

Eventually, I began keeping a Gratitude Journal. That had a surprising gift for me as well. Not only was I consistently reviewing my days and noting the things for which I was thankful, I was creating a resource to stop me when I was tempted to backslide.

On a day when I was feeling less than confident, I’d grab my journal and see page after page of all the blessings that had already shown up in my life.

It gave me my perspective back.

Many people who’ve turned their lives around report that change didn’t happen until they’d hit rock bottom. Emotional pain was the motivater for change.

You could test that for yourself, I suppose. Or you could experiment with practising genuine gratitude right here and now.

Writer Gustave Flaubert said, “The greatest goal in life is the not the attainment of fame. The principle thing in this world is to keep one’s soul aloft.”

Gratitude is the propellant for blasting your spirit into higher realms.

Show your appreciation. Start your own Gratitude Journal. Don’t overlook an opportunity to thank someone.

It’s impossible, after all, to stay grumpy where there’s so much to celebrate.

3 Responses to “From Grumpy to Grateful”

  1. Renee

    Terrific post and a great reminder! I have a personal situation at the moment in which I can probably do more to heal the situation with gratitude for what has gone right in my relationship with this person, rather than show up angry for the current challenges.

  2. Larry

    I’m the type of person who saves the icing on the cake for last. So I always save your blog, Barbara, to read later on as a treat before hitting the hay, or after finishing a good day’s work.
    I had no sooner finished sending my cast and crew a huge thank you e-mail this evening – for helping us complete shooting today on a project we’ve been working on for over a year – than I read this post on the beauty (say, miracle?) of gratitude. I don’t recall ever having read a post, or anything for that matter, that felt so much like an immediate affirmation.
    Thank you for, yet another thoughtful, beautiful, gentle (in my case, karmic) post.
    All the best to you, Barbara.

  3. Jim Anderson

    Nice blog post. Poet/novelist Robert Kroetsch write that fellow poet Andrew Suknaski of Wood Mountain (see his book, Wood Mountain Poems)invented a new form of poetry that might be called bellyacher or bellyaching poems. I’ve read that book by Suknaski, and it’s true that a lot of conversation is in the nature of bellyaching, and surprisingly (to me) Suknaskki turned it to art. Art imitating life. – Jim

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