The pursuit of an attitude of gratitude

Sunday, September 28, 2014



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I recently had my eyes dilated for an eye exam and it made the world temporarily a very blurry place, basically like swimming open eyed under water. Certainly interesting but not practical! Attempting to navigate my daily activities in this state of brief impairment quikly proved impossible and it made me acknowledge the significant dependency I have on my visual capabilities, glasses and all. When my vision returned back to normal I felt so grateful for all the little visual details in my life; price tags at the grocery store, my speedometer in the car, the letters in an article and so forth. All the minor things I normally take for granted suddenly gave me immense joy.  

Gratitude is where it is at if you want to be happy and healthy and since I definitely want to be both, I actively pursue an attitude of gratitude. Theoretically this should be straightforward for me. In fact it should not even be a pursuit as such given that in the grand scheme of things, I am well situated in life. Yet it is. One of the challenges with sustaining gratitude, I believe, is our ability to quickly adjust to change in our circumstances. My favorite example is hot showers. If you had not had one for a while, perhaps you went camping, experienced a power outage or worked 24 hours straight, you will likely feel very grateful when you take your next hot shower. However, days later you are no longer flooded with the same feelings of gratitude because you have adjusted to hot showers being the norm. This is exactly what happened with my vision gratitude as well. I am back to not giving it much thought and even when I do, I am not flooded with feelings of gratitude.  

However, I believe that gratitude is a skill and that although some people have more natural aptitude than others we all have the capacity to pick it up. Luckily there is plenty of inspirational material on how to cultivate gratitude and I continue to explore what works for me. Gratitude journal writing for example sounded like a really great concept, after all I like to write, but when applied in my life it quickly became a dreaded chore and hence I abandoned this practice. On the other hand, making a conscious commitment to the pursuit of gratefulness and molding my thoughts, actions and language accordingly definitely have had a positive impact in my day to day life. I also have my two magic gratitude bullets; nature and my son.  For reasons that are still unclear to me I have never adjusted to either of their magnificence. Not that I delight in everything my son does or that I find parenting a breeze, but with great frequency and without effort I find myself feeling very thankful for his existence. And when all else fails there is always chocolate! 

“As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation
 is not to utter words, but to live by them.” 
– John F. Kennedy