Why Bother Thinking About Gratitude?

Why Bother Thinking About Gratitude?

Is gratitude an emotion, a skill, a virtue, an attitude or a disposition? We feel grateful when someone is kind toward us, but we won’t notice someone’s kindness unless we have the ability to pay attention to other people. Some may say they were born with a good nature and gratitude comes natural for them. Others may share how practicing gratitude has become a habit and now they have an attitude of gratitude. However it shows up in our lives, gratefulness makes us a better person.

The Domino Effect of Gratitude

 Gratitude is immeasurable and at the same time renewable. Unlike a well that runs dry, our source for gratitude does not. Gratefulness begins by thinking about gratitude. What are we grateful for? Who are we thankful for? We can begin our mental list first thing in the morning and continue it throughout the day only to begin a new list the next day. Counting our blessings makes us aware of the blessings that we can count. They are innumerable since new blessings accompany each new day.  

 Gratitude is attractive. It nurtures and deepens old friendships and helps us start new ones. When I consider the choice to spend time with someone who counts their blessings as opposed to spending time with someone who counts their burdens, I will choose the one who counts their blessings. Those who are more mindful of their troubles than they are of the goodness in life are inconsolable souls. Worries, inconveniences, and burdens are just as numerous as the good gifts we are given each day. But ruminating on our troubles only brings out the worst in us—agitation, a sour countenance, and bitterness. Though gratefulness can be contagious, there are those who have built up their immunity to it. 

It has been said that gratitude is a moral barometer. When we notice we’ve benefited from another’s moral actions, and validate their deed with a word of gratitude, that moral character is more likely to continue. A grateful person who reinforces honesty, decency and ethical practices in others will likely help morality to grow in their community and their workplace.  

Finally, gratefulness reminds us to never take anything for granted. Although I have a job and my health today, I am not guaranteed my job or my health tomorrow. Being grateful for what I have today makes me appreciative and mindful for the goodness found in this particular day.  

Why bother thinking about gratitude? It doesn’t matter if we think about gratitude as an emotion, a skill, a virtue, an attitude or a disposition as long as we think about it. 

Why Bother To See Beauty In January?

Why Bother To See Beauty In January?

I know why people go south for the winter— so they do not have to endure cold days, long nights and deep snows. But when they leave the frigid for the balmy, they miss out. Only those of us left who are left behind can appreciate what January delivers; a rare and hidden loveliness. 

  Beauty In The Bleak

I know in the past, I’ve both written and said to others that January is my least favorite month, but I believe it is time to shift that perspective. I don’t want to just put up with January any more. Waiting impatiently for it to go away produces ingratitude. And I do not want to languish for what I do not have— blue skies, sunshine and warm weather. That begets discontentment. Instead, I want to practice gratitude and gratefulness for this particular month called January. After all, it presents us with unique gifts, ones that do not come at any other time of the year. Uncovering and admiring them is my desire.

January offers the gift of snow. Snow changes everything in a landscape. It piles up on roofs creating white top hats. Snow balances on tree branches as well as on barbed wire fences. When the wind blows, it flies through the air like a mysterious white wall of mist. When it drifts it takes on shapes like ruffles, ridges, ravines and motionless ocean waves.

Snow, like a sound barrier, muffles noisy traffic. It forces highway closures, grounds planes, and halts the masses. For public school teachers like me, snow days become slow days. I’m given a gift of time to sit with a book in my lap and a mug of hot cocoa in my hand.  

Snow creates its own sounds. Falling from tree branches it plops, under my boots it squeaks, and sliding from metal roofs it crashes. Snow also leaves evidence of where the deer, mice, and birds have trekked, reminding me of the animals who are still here in spite of the cold. 

Snow has its own texture, sometimes as light as shredded coconut or as heavy as concrete. It is a testament of just how creative our Creator is. Each flake of snow is unduplicated, no two are alike. To think that in the mounds of snow that surround my house no two flakes are the same is a majestic wonder.  

Why bother to see beauty in January? It is worth it to those of us who choose to remain in the land of the frigid instead of escaping to the land of the balmy to uncover loveliness right where we are. As we do, we just might experience a shift in our perspective and gain a sense of gratitude and gratefulness.