I believe that my grandfather was right.
My grandfather was a Presbyterian minister. Before that he was a college president, a mailman, just to mention a few. He comes to mind almost reflexively when asked the question “Who was the most influential person in your life?”
His import came not from his professional stature. It was his disposition, his authentic laugh, that stole my heart. It was his gratitude.
He used to say “Have an attitude of gratitude”; that that was his secret to a happy life. As is so often, the case, I was crushed and slightly indignant when I heard the phrase used by someone else. I was sure he had coined that phrase!
As lives go, mine has been quite an easy one. Perhaps because of this, or perhaps not, the real concept of gratitude has eluded me thus far. I began to relegate it other lofty concepts mysteriously accessed by others.
But not by me, not really.
There has not been any dramatic pivotal event that has allowed me access. I simply decided to discipline my thoughts along a grateful script, as it were. Initially, I felt foolish even to myself. But I have found that the practice gets easier with time. It is as Mary Chapin Carpenter put it, a learning curve of gratitude.
Too simple? Yes.
But I don’t feel foolish anymore. Increasingly what I feel is an unmistakable sense of thankfulness. Unabashed. Joyful.
I remember his skinny white legs when he went fishing at the beach. I remember him teaching me how to play Canasta. I remember his laugh. And I am grateful.
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