“It’s not happiness that brings us gratitude. It’s gratitude that brings us happiness.” ~Anonymous
“Today, I choose to live with gratitude for the love that fills my heart, the peace that rests within my spirit, and the voice of hope that says all things are possible.” ~Anonymous
“Gratitude is not only the greatest of virtues but the parent of all others.” ~Cicero
“Living in the state of gratitude is the gateway to grace.” ~Arianna Huffington
I could keep this list going on and on. There are so many wonderful quotes and sayings about the value of living life with gratitude. One of my all-time favorite movies is Pollyanna. I watched it in 1960 after it’s release by Walt Disney Productions. This movie, however, was not the first Pollyanna movie and each version followed a wildly popular novel, Pollyanna, from 1913, authored by Eleanor H. Porter, which is today considered a classic of children’s literature. The story is about a young girl who becomes an orphan and is raised by her very wealthy aunt. She had been taught by her father to be grateful no matter what came her way. When her new nanny asked her about her optimism, she recounted an event that happened. Her father had asked for clothing in her size when the missionary barrels were sent. Instead of clothing, she received a pair of crutches. Her new nanny said she couldn’t see much to be grateful for or “glad” about receiving crutches. Pollyanna said she felt the same way until her father said she could be “glad” that she didn’t actually need to use the crutches. Pollyanna went on to teach what she called the “glad game”, which led to a heart of gratitude.The more I know about living with a grateful heart, the more I am convinced of the need for that kind of living in our world today. It is easy for me to understand why the Pollyanna novel and subsequent movies were so popular – it is easy to be around people who live with gratitude. They are usually more hopeful, optimistic and generally are more pleasant. Being grateful has the power to change people and situations. When one’s focus becomes entitlement or expectation, it is way to easy to become disappointed, full of resentment, bitterness and even anger.On Sunday, November 1, 1998, we were having company over after church for dinner. I decided to quickly put away our few Halloween decorations before our guests arrived. I gathered things together, returned them to the box for storage, took off my shoes and, in my stocking feet, climbed onto the fender of our Volkswagon Bug. DO NOT TRY THIS AT HOME! The fender of a Bug is very rounded and that is perhaps why, when I lifted my arms to return the box to the garage shelf, my foot slipped and went down between the front of the Volkswagon and the extended bumper. I, on the other hand, fell over backward with my leg trapped. I broke the fibula and tibia in my right leg. After surgery to put me back together, I returned home from the hospital with a brace on my leg and orders for no weight bearing on that leg. I came up with some pretty great ways to get around the house with my crutches carrying bags on each side that could haul anything I needed to wherever I was going. I remember one time doing this and feeling pretty exhausted by the time I returned to my resting place only to realize I had forgotten something that was just out of reach. Poor me, I thought, until I remembered my sweet friend, Carole, who had been in a terrible car accident where she shattered her knees and ankles and was in far worse condition after her accident than I was after mine. She had the BEST attitude. She had an attitude of gratitude and it was reflected in her spirit. She didn’t spend a great deal of time feeling sorry for herself and for the fact that she had a lengthy recovery ahead. She was grateful her accident wasn’t worse; she was grateful for the time her girls came to be with her to help out and to paint her toenails; she was grateful for so many things. She had a heart of gratitude.It is easy to get caught up in wishing away our days – for things we don’t have; for places we would like to go; for time we wish we had to spend in ways we wish we could; for bigger or better. Before we know it, we could just wish away our life and the result could be life without contentment, joy and a cup that overflows.
Having a heart of gratitude comes easier for some than others and it is always a choice. I will say that to choose gratitude will positively affect your overall wellbeing. Practicing gratitude over time becomes a natural attitude. Gratitude puts a positive spin on the way we have encounters with others and the way we experience life. We can work on minimizing our expectations and increasing our way of approaching life. Being grateful is good for our heart health! Instead of getting all worked up about the way something is turning, out, which could possibly raise the old blood pressure, which could then contribute to other physical symptoms like inflammation, etc., we can remain calm and grateful, not setting the negative stuff in motion. Being around genuine, authentic people who practice having a heart of gratitude, is refreshing and alluring. For me, I want to choose to be grateful. I want to focus on the silver lining. I want to be thankful that my fall all those years ago didn’t have lasting consequences. I want to see the adventure of a vacation and not lament the failed expectation. I want to enjoy the surprises of a friendship without placing demands and preconceived ideas of what a friendship should be like. I want to have grace flow through me because my heart feels grateful.
I want to have an attitude of gratitude. How about you? ~Anne
Anne Miller is TableThink’s columnist for Your Tribe. Anne’s writing takes us home, reminding us of what really matters. She invites you to the TableThink tribe . . . and to know it’s . . . Your Tribe.
“I hope you will feel inspired to connect, reconnect, or get to know someone in your community, realizing it is not about entertaining – holding the attention of – it is about “being” together, sharing life and relationship.”