Saturday, November 12, 2016

Cultivating Gratitude

I don’t know if the old saying that age brings wisdom is true, but the advancing years to seem to bring some deeper level of self-awareness. Is that the same thing? Probably not, but it’s what I’ve got. And now that I’m in my seventh decade of life, there are a few things I’ve realized that seem useful to share.

One of the great revelations of my life was the recognition that no one else could be responsible for my happiness. At one time I was seriously depressed, stuck in a job I hated because my family needed my income, so miserable that I wondered if life really was worth living. And then one day I realized that my family needed a healthy and functioning me more than they needed my income. I took a huge leap of faith and quit the job. Fortunately I found another one that made me much happier in short order.

That incident really brought home to me that I needed to take control of my own life. If things weren’t right, it was up to me make them better as best I could. I couldn’t wait for someone else to tell me to do what I needed to do for myself.

I’ve also learned that in most situations, I have a decision about how I want to view it – glass half empty or glass half full. Some things are irretrievably bad.  I’ve had family members die, pets die, serious illnesses, and other bad events. You go through the grieving process – the denial, the anger, the bargaining, etc. And eventually you accept. You can choose to continue in the grief or you can take a more positive view. It can be hard at times, but there is always something to be learned and gained from even the most awful events.

I’ve spent time I now regret being jealous of people who had things better than I did, people who were richer, more attractive, smarter, or more personable. It irritates me to think of the time I wasted on that.

Now, when I’m tempted by those things, I remind myself of how fortunate I am. By the standards of the U.S., I’m middle middle-class, but by the standards of much of the world, I am rich. I’ve never been completely without food or clean drinking water. My house is warm and water-proof. My clothes don’t have designer labels, but neither are they worn to threads or shreds.

I have family who care for me, and a few good friends. I’ve had some great experiences. In the most important ways, I am rich. I just have to remind myself of that fact every now and again.


  1. Karen, your words are so appropriate for our Thanksgiving month. I see so many people who are miserable or jealous and never satisfied with what they have. I need to carry a copy of your blog! We are the masters of our own lives and our own happiness. Thanks for the wonderful words.

  2. Wise words, Karen. Something we all need to be reminded of every now and then.

  3. Hi Karen--
    You are so right about taking control of your thoughts and life. Thank you for sharing your timely post.