Jan 1, 2012

The Art of Gratitude


The New Year is upon us and like most people I too have been thinking about resolutions. We all do the lose weight, get in better shape, be more patient, and other typical thoughts, so I pondered a little bit harder this year.

I wanted to do resolutions that were actually possible, yet something in my own personal life I need to work on. This is what I came up with and I am sharing it with my readers.

New Years Resolutions

Just the very words put fear into some people. Others treat it lightly and make jokes because they know it is something they won’t keep very long. I heard a commentator today talk about his resolution, and he mentioned he made it at midnight and by 12:30 AM he had already broken it. I think he said it had something to do with food. But that is the way most people treat resolutions. It is just something to do.

I have done something similar in the past, even if I made any resolutions. I want to be different this year though. I wanted something that is actually achievable and I want to do my best to keep it. I want it to be an accomplishment at the end of the year.

I Am A Procrastinator

There, yes, I said it, and it is true. I do have a habit of procrastinating. Not with everything but with some things I just can’t get motivated. I make myself lists, even mark it on calendars that pop up on my computer to remind me every few days, and still I forget, and then before long I see the pop-up but I just close it and go back to whatever I am doing.

You know the usual? I keep planning to work out more on the treadmill, cut out some sweets, work on the books I am writing, but it seems I never quite have the time, or at the very least I lack the motivation.  So, what about this year?

I Need To Read

No, I don’t forget to read my Bible, and I do read online, on the iPad, magazines related to my hobbies, and close-captions on the TV. I even take time to read labels when I am shopping for groceries. But, when it comes to sitting down with an actual book, I never seem to do it.

Reading has become a dying skill, unless we count status on Facebook, texts from family or friends. I would dare to say that even most students do not read their textbooks, and in fact I know of at least one school where reading isn’t even a required subject anymore. I know. I was surprised too.

I Have Books

About a year ago, maybe longer, I am actually not sure my brother bought me some novels. They were authors I liked, and the genre I used to read all the time.

There were many nights where I would grab a book after dinner, or even after church on Sunday night, and begin to read as I ate a snack before bed, or even once I climbed in bed to unwind for the day. Many times, I would look at the clock knowing I had to leave for work at 7:30  and notice it was already 4:00 AM! I would hesitantly put down the book, and try to grab a few hours of sleep before work, and would be pushing for lunchtime so I could finish reading.

At the time I was a voracious reader. It was very typical for me to read at least a book a week, and many times two or three.  I loved to read. I am not sure what happened, but over time I guess I just got too busy to keep reading, until the books just sit on a shelf somewhere, unopened, many times with the price tag still stuck to the front. I would dare to say that within my eyesight are at least ten books I have never even opened the cover. Sad, isn’t it?

I Will Read More This Year

My first resolution. I will read more this year. I will make an effort to find the time to sit down with a book and finish it. Yes, life might still get in the way, but I want to get back to reading ‘real books’ before they are no longer being made.

The first book I am going to read this year is ‘The Prayer of Jabez.’ I don’t know much about it, but I have had a friend recommend it, and as a teacher, and an avid reader, I would think she would know what she is talking about.

Take, Take, Take

This year Christmas was different. My parents were away visiting my brother in Japan, and so I wasn’t too excited about Christmas. I live alone and do not have as many friends or family around as I used to, so at times it can become a bit lonely.  However, I decided this past year to go to one of those Black Friday sales, and I must admit I do not want to again.

It was as if people had become ravenous shoppers. Pushing, shoving, snatching items from the shelves before anyone else could get it, and if they happened to notice something in your cart that they wanted, they would try and talk you out of it. It was an experience.

It seems over the past couple of years Christmas has been more about what we get than what we give, even for me. I never told anyone but I was actually disappointed somewhat this year with what I got. Oh, there was a gift that I received that I really needed and appreciated, but  for the most part I felt left out of Christmas.  I didn’t even get a card from some who I really care about, even though I sent out cards myself.


Christmas isn’t supposed to be about sadness, or being disappointed, and yet this year I was. I didn’t really get to spend it with the ones I wanted, and the lack of gifts left me moody and disenchanted.  I only let it last for a couple of days and tried to make the best of it, but still and all, well I think you get the idea.

I started thinking about it the other day, ‘How do I react during the rest of the year?’ Am I of the same temperament that I was at Christmas?

Moody, sullen, downtrodden; are these words that describe me during the year? Sure, I am thankful for what I have, and I get by, but am I ungrateful?


I don’t think I am, and I try most of the time not to let my feelings show, but I really do not like others who are given so much and they act like it means nothing. I spent a few minutes, let’s be truthful, thinking about it and wondering about myself. Is that my attitude too?

The dictionary seems to lump thankful and grateful together. Most people would think they are the same thing, but digging deeper, they are a little bit different.


Thankful: In a nutshell, pleased and relieved. In fact most of the definition mentions relief.

Grateful: Feeling or showing an appreciation of kindness.

There is a difference. Thankful seems to be a reflection of how we feel, while grateful seems to be an action we show others.

All you have to do is go back to Christmas morning and you can see the difference. Everyone is pleased with presents, but you can tell when they are grateful for what they get.

Gratefulness Is An Art

I experienced that this past year in spite of how I felt about Christmas.  I try and get, or make, gifts that I think the person I am giving will actually want.

I don’t just buy some random thing for my loved ones, or get something on a list, but I actually try and find something I think they will like.

This year I bought small stuffed animals for my twin nieces, and I wasn't;t actually sure haw they would feel about them. I liked the animals, you could feed them, pat them on the head, they made noises. The girls are four, so I thought perhaps they would like them but you can never be to sure.

The Gifts

They had a huge pile of presents and I was sure mine would just get lost in the mix, thrown aside, put on a shelf somewhere.

My gift was the second or third thing they opened, and when they saw what it was, immediately they took it to their dad to open the rest of the way. You know, the way they wrap toys these days is a pain, but that is a story for another day.

Anyhow, they stopped opening their other gifts because they wanted to play with what I got them. I felt relieved for sure, but maybe a little proud as well.  My gift mattered and in a small way I felt I mattered too.

Gratefulness Is A Funny Thing

After a little while, their grandmother wanted them to finish opening the rest of the gifts. She even seemed a little bit put off that here were all these other wrapped presents, and the girls were not interested in opening them.

They finally did open the rest, but as soon as they were finished it was back to playing with what I brought them. In a way I felt vindicated, proud, and yes grateful.

The girls gave me hugs, and were excited.  To be honest, so was I.  I was thankful I picked out something they would like, and actually play with, but also I was grateful for their appreciation.

While there wasn’t much for me to open at Christmas, my twin nieces gave me a gift of gratitude. Here it is days later and I still feel emotional about it.

I Will Be More Grateful This Year

My second and final resolution is to be more grateful this year. Sure, I could add in get in better shape, get rid of this or that, but I truly want to strive to be more grateful.

I have a hard time dealing with people giving me things. Most of the time, it  is because they don’t seem to really know me well enough to get something I like, but also, I am more a giver than a taker. It is hard for me to accept things I haven’t worked for, so gifts are not really something I react to.

Still Thankful

As I mentioned before I am thankful for what I have and the people in my life, but  I know at times I can be difficult to deal with, and even more so, I want to be more grateful.

Being grateful isn’t always easy in tough times, but it is an important act of life. A few years ago, there were ‘gratitude journals’ available online and in stores for people to write down their thoughts like a diary. I noticed it, but didn’t ascribe to it, simply because it was a ‘fad.’

However, this year I felt that instead of just accepting what is given me, or the way I am treated, I will really try and be more grateful.

I want gratefulness to be something that spreads into the lives of those around me and even farther until it is an epidemic.  By showing otehrs my gratefulness, maybe it will rub off, and lives will be changed by The Art of Gratitude