By Dawn Onley
One of the greatest things my parents taught me growing up was to express gratitude for everything. They would eyeball me when someone from church gave me a compliment or handed me something as small as a piece of candy. “What do you say?” my mom or dad would ask in what sounded like more a statement than a question. “Thank-you,” I would reply.
We were taught to always say grace before meals. It was to give thanks to God for the meal and for the person who prepared it. We did it so much, I would say grace before even eating snacks. I was taught not to take anything for granted.
Manners were a big pet peeve of my folks. “Please” and “thank-you” were customary and expected in our household. In fact, I can’t ever recall receiving a gift where I didn’t thank the giver – in person, over the phone or with a card. It was drilled into me so much that it’s become instinctual now. Gratitude is deeply embedded in my spirit and flows freely from my tongue.
I’m thankful for this upbringing. I’m already passing the same teachings to my son. I believe a spirit of gratitude is extremely important in developing a young person’s character, and helping to instill values in him or her. I also think gratitude is more than just expressing thanks; it is a state of being, an attitude that is adorned. It helps to shape how a person sees the world, but even more than this, how a person deals with disappointment, conflict and stress.
Gratitude is gratefulness. It’s hard to feel downtrodden or defeated when you embody a spirit of gratefulness. It’s hard to take things for granted when you’re thankful. You see the world differently. You realize things could be much different. You may get disappointed at times, that’s human nature, but then you remember all the beauty in your life. It’s hard to curse the night when the day is so bright. Gratitude helps to keep everything in perspective. It has always helped me to realize that I’m blessed beyond measure.
The people I know who are optimistic and happy and who see the glass as half full tend to be thankful people. They tend to have grateful hearts. These people wear their joy and if you listen to them talk, before long, you’ll hear it come out. I have also found the exact opposite to be true. I have found that people who are pessimistic and doom and gloom and “woe is me” tend to be less focused on gratitude and thanks. They tend to be less joyful.
The saying “attitude determines altitude” is true. What’s also true is that a person’s attitude shows their gratitude. When you’re thankful, it shows.