“The secret of happiness is to live moment by moment and to thank God for what He is sending us every day in His goodness.” – St. Gianna Beretta Molla
I bumped into someone the other day at Walgreens who I have not seen in years. It was so nice to see an old aquiantance. We chatted and exchanged stories of each other's lives. She was telling me of all the loss that she had encountered with losing her job, her house, and her pets. It was sad to hear the heartache and pain in her voice. But with all the pain and loss, she said she was grateful. She was still blessed to have her health, her kids and her hope. "Without hope and faith, I wouldn't be able to move on with life...God has been good" she continued to say. What? I thought to myself, how can this woman be so happy and joyful with all that she lost?
Being grateful is not one of the fruits of the Spirit but it is related to joy. Being grateful gives way to joy which is one of the virtues. A Roman philosopher Cicero said that gratitude is not only the greatest of the virtues, but the parent of all others. Gratitute can not be coerced, requested, or demanded. It can only be given and when we are grateful, it is impossible to be hateful or angry. Gratitute by definition is readiness to show appreciation for and to return kindness. Being grateful is being pleased by what someone has done for you and being pleased by the results. I can recall a time when I felt very grateful. My husband and kids and myself went to a drive-in movie during covid when the movie theaters were closed. We used my car's radio for the audio. Little did I know that it would drain my battery. Towards the end of the movie, my car went black... the light... the sound. I tried to start it but it wouldn't turn over. I asked the family next to us to see if they had jumper cables. The man tried to jump it but with no luck my car was still dead. Then, I called Geico but they took way too long to respond, so my husband called his brother. By this time it was well after 11:00pm and we were the only ones in the pitch black parking lot. Within minutes, my brother-in-law showed up and he suggested to look in my trunk for the jumper cables. Sure enough, they were there and within 5 minutes my car started. Yeah! I was so grateful for my brother--in-law to help us out that night.
Gratitute is not so much an attitute but a thankful appreciation. When we express gratitude, we feel more positive. Developing an attitude of gratfulness is a mindset shift. It is easy for us to get caught up in the negatives of life and ponder on all of those things that went wrong. Staying in a mindet of "I never can get ahead" or "I am not good enough" can create a bitter and angry mindset. But when we challenge those negative thoughts to positive ones, our attitudes change in which our feelings change which changes our behavior. I usually suggest to my clients to keep a gratitude journal. It is a regular notebook/journal that can be purchased at staples (or any other stationary store). Writing down the things you are grateful for each day can help keep perspective on all the things that we have, instead of focusing on those things we don't have. This helps with reducing anxiety, depression and creates a more positive attitude.
In Conclusion: With Thanksgiving right around the corner, take some time each day and think about what you are thankful for. Remember attitudes are contagious. The more grateful you are, the more positive you will become. People will notice and will want that positivty as well. God is the source of all happiness. When I give thanks for what I have, I say "thank you Lord for being there and for all those people that you put in my life."
About the Author: Donna L. Marotto is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist, Faith Formation Coorindator/Youth Minister, and a Lay Franciscan. Her blog comes out the 4th Monday of every month. Her new book "Love Changes Everything" can be found on Amazon, Barnes and Noble and on the website: Youarelovedministry.com