"Neither gratitude nor attitude are challenges faced by any individual in their daily life; they are choices! We only become truly aware of the happiness that surrounds us during moments when our hearts are conscious of life's treasures. Indeed, it could be argued that happiness is itself a kind of gratitude. It's simply another way of proclaiming one's thankfulness for being alive.
Today, fewer and fewer people pray to God, although it could be argued that prayers have never been more needed in the uncertain times we live in. As for 'saying grace' for our daily food as a family, forget it; few families sit around the table to eat together nowadays and I even know of some families who choose not to have a table! We often take for granted the very things that deserve our gratitude; our very being, our life, health and reason. We often undervalue the true worth of siblings, family, neighbours, friends, parents, children, brothers, sisters, partners and spouses, and can be prone to overlook the efforts and endeavours of numerous others who try to make the world a more peaceful and prosperous place.
One of the few pieces of advice my father gave me as a child was, 'Billy, whatever job you do, do to the best of your ability, even if it's only sweeping the floor. If you leave a firm for another job, always leave it properly, because someday, you might want to go back to work there; and always say thank you!' It was my dad who impressed upon me that no duty is more urgent than the returning of thanks. Even as I grew into adulthood, I would still occasionally find him knelt in prayer at the side of his bed. He was a hard dad sometimes, but he was a God fearing honest man, and a thankful one at all times.
A grateful heart is a magnet for miracles to follow. My relaxation and meditative practices since the age of twelve taught me that there is a calmness and quiet joy to be found in any life lived in gratitude, for in every moment of gratitude can be found goodness and grace.
Silent gratitude is little use to anyone in a noisy world, and wasting any genuine opportunity to be grateful, brings with it an impoverishment of humanity. Feeling gratitude and not expressing it is just as futile as buying a present and not giving it! People naturally like and need to feel appreciated; gratitude is often one more justification of their existence. We also need to have acknowledged, the worth of our own good actions.
Over three years ago, I was diagnosed with a terminal illness and quickly needed to readjust to a number of things in my life that would just never be the same for me again; the most influential being that I no longer had an effective immune system to fight off any illness I contracted and would therefore be prone to attacks of colds, flu bouts, chest infections and possible pneumonia for as long as I lived. I quickly decided to carry on living for as long and as well as I could, despite the daily game of Russian Roulette I play with my life every time I come within breathing, touching, infection distance of another ill person. When I looked around, I could see that I had many things going for me; far too many to give up on without the fiercest struggle. It was only after I had started to count my blessings that it dawned on me that I was truly blessed with all the wonderful people and things in my life. I started to feel that I'd always been blessed. It was that realisation that turned my life around for me; and not for the first time, I might add.
I will end with a favourite quotation of mine that comes from the mouth of one of A. A. Milne's delightful stories: 'Piglet noticed that even though he had a very small heart, it could hold rather a large amount of gratitude.'
Today is a good day. Today is a day that is good to be alive." William Forde: September 4th, 2016.