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Attitude of Gratitude

Our eldest son, Mons, doesn't live at home anymore but we still get some of his mail, including an unsolicited Canadian magazine called "Fresh Juice: Healthy Made Delicious."   It's really a not-so-subtle plug for a large grocery chain but there are some good articles in it nonetheless and one that grabbed me this morning was, "The Gratitude Attitude" by Graham Verdon.

The article begins with this audacious statement: "Psychology studies show that being grateful can make us stronger, smarter and faster."  Further on it says, "There's a growing mountain of evidence from the burgeoning field of positive psychology that shows we can train ourselves to be more grateful on a daily basis and powerfully transform our lives."

I think I'm a fairly positive person but the one area where I historically lack gratitude is in regards to my husband Tom and our marriage.  I'm much more prone to complain and see the things I don't like.  And then I wonder why I find my marriage painful and unfulfilling.  "It's easy to imagine everyone around you has more going on, is doing better and is just plain happier."  And that imagination can lead us to dissatisfaction.  I know it has for me.

"...if there's an opposite to gratitude, it may be a sense of entitlement."  Perhaps this is part of my problem.  We come into marriage with certain expectations--usually inflated and unrealistic ones--and then wonder why they don't come to fruition.  We have a sense of entitlement--or at least I have; I'm "entitled" to have a loving, doting husband who meets all my emotional needs and if he doesn't, for whatever reason, instead of being grateful for the things he does very well, such as reliably providing basics such as food, shelter, stability, I complain.  Many women would love to have a husband like Tom and I complain.

"...those who experience positive to negative emotions in a three-to-one ratio are more resilient to adversity and more creative in finding solutions to life's challenges."  My marriage has been a challenge for me but perhaps that's because of my lack of gratitude, my negative attitude, my disappointment that marriage didn't turn out like the fairy tales say it should.  I certainly haven't fostered positive emotions in relationship to Tom.

"In essence, each moment of thankfulness is a little celebration of goodness.  String enough of them together and life itself becomes a celebration."  What a cool thought!  How much of my life is a celebration?  I know some of it is but I need to start celebrating my marriage as well.

How?  Verdon suggests three things: 1. Savour the moment with all your senses; 2. Daily write down things you're thankful for; 3. Tell those who have made a positive impact on your life why you appreciate them so much.  One thing that I've been thinking about a lot more, lately, is about living life with no regrets.  If something happened to Tom, I think I'd regret not being more thankful for who he was and regret dwelling so much on who he isn't.

With Canadian Thanksgiving just around the corner, I need to start developing an attitude of gratitude for the husband God gave me and celebrate the good things of our life together.  God, please help me do this!

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About the Author

DEBBIE HAUGHLAND CHAN
WINNIPEG, MANITOBA, CANADA

I'm married (35 years in December 2008) with four grown sons. I love my city (Winnipeg) and my country (Canada) and promote them both to whoever will listen. God (through Jesus Christ) is the biggest part of my life. I am learning to let him take control of all areas--though I do better at this some times more than others.

I have written a book that's recently been published about part of my journey with God. In it I tell how God confronted me with the same-sex attraction issues I've struggled with all my adult life and how he led me through them to a deeper and more meaningful relationship with him. God is amazing—his forgiveness, his love, his movement in our lives when we allow him and so much more. I suspect God will never run out of things to teach me or ways to make me grow and that’s a good thing (though often very painful).

I suppose I can say that what gives me the greatest pleasure in life is telling others about…