Marvels or Misery: Finding A Grateful Heart

Happy Thanksgiving

I am a grateful person. I haven’t always been grateful though.  There was a time when I was expecting more from people and from experiences in my life; I was constantly criticizing and undervaluing things around me.  Sadly this stemmed from my very competitive nature where my tendency would be to find ways to make things better or judge harshly the efforts of others.  But something clicked inside my head, literally one day while sitting in church listening to someone talk about gratitude.  Tears came streaming down my face as I realized how ungrateful I had been.

Flipping my perspective in that moment changed many things about me.  Rather than look for faults, I began searching and finding the good in every thing, big or small.  I acknowledged my own faults, but softened my expectations for myself and figured out that there was a time and a season for all things in my life and that I didn’t need to accomplish them all at once or ever.  What a relief!  I started to notice the amazing abilities of others and more importantly accept the fact that even though I did not or would ever have the same abilities that I could learn and grow by having these people in my life.

I started to downplay negative things that had happened in the past and tried to focus only on what was right in front of me.  This opened my heart to appreciate at a much higher level, to see the goodness, the blessings, the opportunities .  I began a gratitude journal writing down two to three things each day for which I was grateful.  Over time, even the smallest thing, like “I’m grateful for street lights so I can find my way in the dark” entered my mind.

My attitude of gratitude spilled over into my family life.  I was a happier mother because I worked on enlarging the marvels of motherhood rather than the miseries of motherhood.  There is a big difference!   For example when little ones come in with dirty feet and hands, we should be grateful that they are out exploring, learning about nature rather than be upset about extra work cleaning up.  This attitude change doesn’t happen overnight.  Even now I work on balancing my need for a clean, tidy house with spending time just laughing and sharing time with those I love.  In the end what will matter more?  Will I say “Oh I wish I had spent more time cleaning my house?”  I don’t think so.

Being grateful is all a part of healthy living.  When our hearts are filled with thanks for the things that bless our lives we’re happier and in a better position to influence others for good.  We want to share our happiness with others.  That’s my life goal and am grateful I figured this out fairly early in my adult life so that I can look back and say “life has been sweet and filled with so many wonderful people who have touched my life for good.”

“Cultivate the habit of being grateful for every good thing that comes to you, and to give thanks continuously. And because all things have contributed to your advancement, you should include all things in your gratitude.” Ralph Waldo Emerson



  1. Anonymous says:

    Thanks for this post. I too can be too inwardly competitive with those around me, and it never makes me happier. I never thought of it as a sign of being ungrateful, but I think you are right. I have a lot to be thankful for, especially being a mother. As a person I greatly admire, I appreciate your personal insights.

    Amy Mack

    • Karen says:

      Amy: As I was reflecting on why I was so ungrateful it occurred to me that by comparing myself to others I felt lacking and therefore wishing for more rather than loving what I already had. I’m glad this offered you some insight. We all have our own paths to carve and I’m enjoying watching yours play out from afar. XO

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