The Real Secret of Gratitude

by Katherine Scherer

Have you ever wailed like a victim and asked yourself, why is this happening to me? Are you taking the necessary action to accomplish your desires and goals or are you reacting to life by crying out, “I have so much to do, there’s no time left for me?” Complaints like this are usually made by frustrated individuals who haven’t yet learned that life doesn’t have to be that urgent.


In these ambitious times, rushing seems to be the norm. Everyone is in a hurry. It wasn’t always this way. Before fast lane freeways there were fewer cars on the road. Children played all day long, worry free at the vacant corner lot. Men listened to the ball game on their front porch after a hard day at work, the smell of dinner lingering from the kitchen stove. Neighbors said hello to each other as they passed by on their early evening walk. Those good old days of yesterday bring memories of simpler times.


Unable to turn back time begs the question, “what can we do now to make our lives simpler?  Can we slow down on this fast paced road to the slaughter of stress?  Is there a magic formula? Does it have a name? Is it simple? Remember, I haven’t much time.”


If you are speeding through life, chances are you too are whining and wailing and missing out on blessings that are right in front of you. Imagine a tiny shift in your perception moving you into a state of joy. Something to reactivate your thinking and make your life work again. Living in gratitude and counting your blessings is that something. Each moment counts when we are grateful for it. We value who we are and what we want to accomplish. Our heart opens, our life changes, it feels good, and it’s free. We laugh at our setbacks because we know we can redirect our mind from its turmoil to a state of peace, in a blink. The truth is, it’s insane to live without gratitude.      


Everything begins with a thought. Thoughts are mental whispers that give direction to our lives. They set the tone for our day. Check it out. When you first wake up in the morning are you thinking happy thoughts, inspiring thoughts, uplifting, and healthy, thoughts? Are you seeing the world partly sunny instead of partly cloudy before you even open your eyes? Or, are you, like so many others feeling tired and grumpy because you’re already focusing on unpleasantries before your feet reach the floor?


If you want to feel good while still warm and cozy under the covers follow these three easy steps:

  1. Think of five things that you are grateful for in the very first moment you awake. If you have difficulty thinking of something to be grateful for, hold your breath for a minute or two. Or, imagine yourself being newly blinded or having lost the ability to smell. What if you had experienced an auto accident the day before that had left you paralyzed from the neck down, and this was your first day of awakening to it? Thinking of five things to be grateful for is easy.

  2. Notice how everything is connected to everything else. Picture a beautiful flower in your mind. Without its stem and leaves and a root system that grows in the ground, loving the sun and the water, it just wouldn’t be. It is the same with us. We have a mind and a body, food to eat, clothes on our back, a home to live in, a place to work, furniture to sit on, money to purchase things, and friends and family to share with. Everything is connected.
  3. Pay close attention to the good that is all around you.  In the Midwest singing birds welcome the morning with chirping sounds that entertain and delight us from early spring to late summer. The sweet fragrances of flowering trees idle in, stimulating our sleepy nostrils. We relish the cooler air and colors of autumn and the exceptional beauty of each new winter snowfall. A fond memory is created by remembering a kind word, or a thank you received, after doing a good deed. Can you see how much there is to be grateful for even before you get out of bed? The list is endless. 

Counting our blessings is such a simple concept that most of us miss the importance of it. Instead of focusing on all of the good in our lives, our lopsided perceptions have us moaning and complaining about things we can’t do anything about. Taxes, the weather, the raise we didn’t get. Why bother?  Remember the words of Abe Lincoln, “A person is just about as happy as he makes up his mind to be.”


Choose gratitude every day and you will be happier. Gratitude is an opportunity to deepen your capacity for love. It shifts anger and upsets. It balances suffering and hardship. Let gratefulness overflow in your life and you will be better for it. And finally, the real secret of gratitude is, the more you are grateful for, the more you will have to be grateful for. Life is a gift ~ be grateful for each present moment. 

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