Gratitude is more than an attitude

Nov 25, 2021 | 12 comments |

As my American family, friends and readers celebrate Thanksgiving, gratitude and giving thanks are in the news, and I’ve been thinking about the phrase “gratitude is an attitude.”

Being thankful is an attitude and expressing appreciation for things large and small has been shown to be associated with greater happiness and improved mental (and often physical) health.

As many of you know, each year I choose a word to guide me and in 2016 that word was ‘gratitude.’ When I chose it, I didn’t know that the subsequent twelve months would make it difficult to be grateful and appreciative.

English Rose was diagnosed with the first of what turned out to be several life-changing rare medical conditions.

After Tech Guy’s anticipated Canadian job fell through, I spent most of 2016 single-parenting in Canada while he remained in England to work and job search. Late that year, he was finally able to move to Canada but since his new job was five hours away, we still had to spend weekdays apart.

I was also managing several complicated family estates.

Gratitude wasn’t so much an ‘attitude’ as what often felt like another task to check off on my overwhelming to-do list.

It’s only in retrospect I realize that choosing gratitude for my word that year was more than adopting an attitude. Instead, it was consciously developing a practice of cultivating appreciation, particularly when life was hard.

In the five years since 2016, my life has had many ups and downs. It’s easy to be grateful for good things, but it’s through challenges I’ve gained a fuller understanding of what gratitude means.

Finding things to be grateful for even when life is hard has taught me patience, resilience and given me a happiness more firmly rooted in who I am inside and less influenced by what’s going on externally.

Gratitude is now not only an attitude, but a way of life founded on who I am and want to be, each day and not only at times of thanksgiving.

As for applying that approach this week, when both our kitchen sink and dishwasher have failed?

While I send good wishes to everyone celebrating Thanksgiving in the United States, Canadian Thanksgiving was in October so I’m grateful I’m not hosting a family gathering this week.

Broken appliances are also a first world problem and in addition to plenty of dishes to see us through this time of repairs, we have the financial means to support local restaurants by getting takeout when cooking isn’t possible.

Not least, and thanks to Tech Guy, I’m reminded of my appreciation for romantic leads who are handy around the house and in tackling DIY.

12 Comments

  1. Roz Schindler

    Lovely and appropriate message! Wishing you, your beloved family, and all of us a better year ahead!

    Reply
    • Jen Gilroy

      Thank you, Roz. I’m glad you enjoyed my post. Thinking of you and sending love both at this season of thanksgiving and for the year ahead.

      Reply
  2. Beth

    I’d much rather have a handy guy than a handsome guy, but I’m grateful that mine is both! Love to all of you.

    Reply
    • Jen Gilroy

      Thanks for making me smile, Beth. We’re both lucky with ‘our guys!’ Love to you in return.

      Reply
  3. Susanna Bavin

    This is perfect, Jen. It’s easy to feel grateful for good things, but as you rightly point out, there is more to it than that. Appreciation often doesn’t come along until later and there is a lot to be said for cultivating that feeling as you go along. You and your family have had a lot to cope with in recent years and your thoughtful blog reflects the sensitivity and grace as well as the determination you have brought to these challenges.

    Reply
    • Jen Gilroy

      Thank you so much, Susanna. I appreciate your kind comments about my blog, as well as my family’s experiences. In facing these challenges, your friendship and support have been a great help and I’m most grateful. xx

      Reply
  4. Jennifer Wilck

    I love reading your blogs. They always make me smile, even when discussing challenging times. You’re right, it’s the practice of gratitude that more important than the attitude. And I remind myself to practice it, especially in the hard times. It’s not always easy, but it does make things better.

    Reply
    • Jen Gilroy

      Thank you so much, Jennifer. I’m happy you enjoy my blogs and am glad they make you smile. We’re similar in needing to ‘remind’ ourselves to practice gratitude but, and also like you, I’ve learned that it does help.

      Reply
  5. Deb

    You are so right, Jen. Even in rough times, there are always things to be grateful for. It is finding the still-blooming flower hidden among the decaying leaves… And YAY for handy heroes. Looking forward to our new book. I am grateful for my writer friends-like you-who produce the books I love, and take me away from my troubles with their beautiful words.

    Reply
    • Jen Gilroy

      Thank you, Deb. I like the idea of a “still-blooming flower hidden among the decaying leaves.” Thank you for sharing that beautiful image. I also appreciate your kind words about my writing and hope you enjoy “Montana Reunion.” Only a little while now to wait until publication in January.

      Reply
  6. Heidi Kathryn Vanstone

    Another comment that comes to mind is: “Your attitude determines your altitude”. I have definitely seen this axiom played out over the last 20 months. When I choose to be positive and grateful, even the hard things that come my way are somehow tolerable. When I choose to be negative and indulge in self-pity “wallowing”, even small troubles seem insurmountable.
    As I (hopefully) mature, I am finding the simplest things in life are my gratitude points: faith, family, lovingly prepared food and friends. Anything beyond that is simply icing on the cake!

    Reply
    • Jen Gilroy

      I hadn’t heard that comment about “gratitude” and “altitude,” Heidi. Thanks for sharing it with me. The last twenty months have indeed been a “test” of sorts for choosing gratitude for me as well. I’m glad you’re finding gratitude and joy in life’s simple things too. Thanks, as always, for reading and reflecting on my blog.

      Reply

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