Jimbob's Journal
Gratitude is the Attitude
by Jim Harris

OK, everybody up. It's time for a little gratitude. No, it's not Thanksgiving, I'm thinking of something a bit more abiding and pervasive. I'm talking deep down, every day, happy to be alive.

They say that it's hard to feel angry or resentful when you're busy being grateful. Nowhere in the known universe (except possibly Disney World) is there a sign that says, "Happiness Guaranteed". In fact, in the midst of all of Nature's chaos and upheaval, it's astounding that we can manage to string together even a few moments of happiness on a daily basis. Yet most of us do at least that well. All things considered, our system works pretty efficiently. It protects most of us most of the time, at least espouses high ideals. Thousands of preceding generations did most of the unpleasant legwork that got us here, and what the future holds is anyone's guess, so enjoy the view from this mountaintop. If you aren't grateful for the good stuff, your probably going to have serious problems with the bad stuff.

I've always said that my happiest moments were all in my head. No fireworks, no cheering crowds, just a quiet, deep-down feeling of gratitude. Not only for the love and the beauty and the fun, but also for the difficult times that forced me to grow. They're all part of a rich life. Every morning and every night, rain or shine, good or bad, I say," Thank you for this life, thank you for this day". Whether I'm saying it to God or to Nature, or just for the record, it really doesn't matter. I am the beneficiary. It doesn't mean being happy while my brother or sister is sad, or being complacent in the face of suffering, it just means acknowledging every simple gift that I receive. I have often been inspired by the gratitude in people much less fortunate than myself.

I don't have to look far to see where I got my present attitude. My mom recently passed away (yes, she was a saint on my short list of saints). After losing her husband in the 1950's, she opted not to remarry. She raised me and supported herself on a waitress' salary. She worked well into her eighties. I never heard her complain. She was determined to be happy and to have fun, and she worked at it, but not to the extent of being selfish. Her idea of a good time always involved sharing with others. She surrounded herself with friends and pets and beautiful things. She took an interest in the life of her world. She still read the paper every day at 94, and had an opinion on just about everything, but not in an arrogant or superior way. She never took herself too seriously, and remained humble in the devout beliefs that sustained her so wonderfully right up until the end. If I learned anything from her, it's this - you are not owed anything in this world. You're born, and anything good beyond that is gravy. Soak it up and be glad. The example you set will inspire others to do the same.

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