The Attitude of Gratitude

“There are two ways to live your life. One is as though nothing is a miracle. The other is as though everything is a miracle.”
– Albert Einstein

M.J. Ryan in her new book, Attitudes Of Gratitude, writes how this simple, but profound attitude can change a person’s life. As we enter the new millennium may we be fully equipped with gratitude for the blessings of our life and the blessings of the relationships we have. This new century is bringing changes and change is not always easy or comfortable. Yet with the attitude of gratefulness we can truly see the miraculous in any situation.

The year has probably been the most challenging year of my life. It began January 13, 1999 with the severe break of my leg and ankle requiring surgery and leaving me not being able to walk normally for almost six months. There is still considerable pain, requiring another surgery.

Then in August came the sudden and unexpected death of my father, a man I truly adored. For the first time in my life, I got to experience the depths of grief. Several days after my father passed, our Golden Retriever, Ginger, delivered eleven healthy puppies. Breeding Golden Retrievers is a hobby and delight for Barry and I and our three children, Rami, Mira, and John-Nuri. Because I was actively grieving my father’s passing, I entered into the care of these eleven pups as one way to bring healing to my heart. I always grow fond of the pups, but I grew especially close to this litter.

One female in particular, Rosie, captured my heart. She was lovingly named “Miss Eyebrows” by our daughter, Mira. She wore a rose-colored collar and was very adorable. One day, when Rosie was almost eight weeks old, she suddenly lost interest in eating and soon became lethargic. I put her to sleep in a separate warm place for the night. When I woke it was obvious to me that Rosie was dying. Our vet came and did what he could, but she died in my arms several hours later. She went from being totally active to dead in twelve hours. (We later found out that she most likely had a liver anomaly.) Something about the innocent puppy’s death snapped something inside of me. Why were so many hard things happening to me? I couldn’t help feeling like a victim.

The next day, in my meditation, I realized so fully and deeply that I cannot depend on outer circumstances for my happiness. My joy comes from feeling the love and gratitude that is a permanent part of my heart. I have always known this truth in my head, but these series of experiences have allowed me to bring this truth into the depth of my being. This year has in fact been a miracle, bringing me more deeply into my heart. And for that I am grateful.

As we enter the 21st Century may we all look for ways to be grateful. Gratitude is a quality that can be a permanent part of our lives. No person or circumstance can take this from us. Miracles can happen through holding this simple attitude.

We who lived in concentration camps can remember the men who walked through the huts comforting others, giving away their last piece of bread. They may have been few in number, but they offer sufficient proof that everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of the human freedoms — to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances…” – Victor Frankl

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