Sometime ago, I heard a radio program featuring Dr. James Dobson. In his Focus on the Family message that day, he said that “a grateful heart is a joyful heart”.
I was on my way back from the grocery store with my daughter Katie who was about two years old at the time. I remember the day very well because as I was driving along, thinking of all I had to be grateful for and reflecting on the many blessings God had poured into my life in those two years, I was pulled over for speeding.
The officer was very nice about it; I told him about the radio show I had just heard and that I didn’t realize how fast I was going because I was in my own little world accessing my grateful heart. He looked at Katie in her little car seat behind me. He was an older gentleman, maybe in his early 60’s, and he looked wistful when he said, “Ma’am; you be sure to cherish these years and your babies while you have them, it’s not long before they’re all grown up.”
I laughed and told him that I had only recently found out I was pregnant and assumed that part of my inattentiveness that day was due to brain fog over that. I also told him that while while of my friends complain about dirty diapers and muddy footprints in their homes, I’ve always been thankful for it all because it means that I have my children. He nodded, asked me to please watch my speed, said ‘good luck with the baby’ and sent me on my way.
Returning home with my groceries, daughter, and my good luck, I remember realizing that my attitude of gratitude is actually what shapes my character and forms my demeanor. It would be pretty hard to be a negative, toxic person when you’re joyfully appreciative for all your blessings.
Of course, maintaining that level of positivity and appreciation isn’t always easy, when children are crying or the washing machine breaks down or you’re told at 9pm that 24 cupcakes need to be baked for school the next day, it’s easy to lose it. I try to stay as positive as I can, and everybody who has met me comments on my upbeat outlook, but in this world of cynicism and skepticism even I have my moments.
As I sit here looking at the baskets of laundry that needs folding, and think of the dishwasher which needs to be unloaded, and contemplate what to make for dinner, as well as prepare for my interview on NRA News this afternoon and the next article I need to write, it would be easy to become overwhelmed. Instead, I am reminded that an attitude of gratitude is what’s needed to complete these tasks without breaking my sanity.
Its easy to get into the habit of complaining and slip into a chiming in with your friends when they throw a pity party when it comes to their lives. If you think about it though, it’s just as easy to decide to find things to be grateful for and throw a joyful appreciation party for all that you’ve got. Thats something I try to emulate to my children as well. Based on their joyful attitudes and positive outlooks, I’m doing a good job so far!
My two cents: tackling life with a thankful heart makes you and your days more joyful. But if you ever find yourself slipping into complaining about your situation, the solution is simple. Try to think of the woman who has none of your blessings or the messes they make and how appreciative she would be to be able to handle what you’re complaining about.