Gratitude is not merely the natural result of something good that happens to you. The world is full of people whose outlook on life is negative and critical despite the fact that life is generally pretty easy for them. It takes little effort to find things that displease us, circumstances about which we complain, people who get under our skin. But our circumstances have little connection with our happiness. I know people whose life circumstances are absolutely terrible, who are filled with joy and gratitude, while others who have been blessed with health, family, and resources, who are miserable. It's a choice to look at life in a certain way, to focus on the blessings instead of the bumps.
I began thinking of gratitude this afternoon on the way into town. Our dishwasher had sprung a leak, the plumber came out and discovered what I could have found out myself had I taken the time to simply think things through, so after paying him for his friendly visit, I headed to town for a drain hose and a few other items. I wasn't feeling particularly happy, nor particularly sad; I was just hovering in a vacuum of emotion when I decided I didn't want to remain there. I began considering some of the small blessings for which I could give thanks, and my attitude improved. Which leads me to believe that most of the time we miss out on God's blessings simply because we go through each day without attuning our hearts to what really matters. It takes a decisive effort to do this. If I allow myself to drift with the current of whatever emotion surfaces at any given time, things will not end well. It is that decision to choose gratitude that has the power to take a very ordinary day and turn it into an extraordinary one. Today I am thankful that I've learned the power to choose my attitude. It's in my hands, and I choose life.