It Takes More Than An "Attitude of Gratitude"

For years, I subscribed to the notion of an “attitude of gratitude.” I’ve since learned that an 
attitude is an orientation or a way of thinking and that “having an attitude” doesn’t always translate 
to a behavior… It  seems that gratitude without practice may be a little like faith without works – it’s not alive.

Brené Brown, in her book The Gifts of Imperfection

Brown's words echo my take on living gratefully. "Talk is cheap." "You can't just talk the talk. You need to walk the walk." "Actions speak louder than words." "Faith without works is dead." These phrases all exude what BrenĂ© Brown is capturing.  

There is value in awareness and a shift in attitude, but those only hold if our actions also shift and new patterns of thoughts and behaviors emerge, hooking us in good ways. 

For me, it did start with "an attitude of gratitude" thirty years ago. I was pretty stuck in self-pity and spinning my wheels in early sobriety. To shift my thinking, I needed awareness that my thinking needed shifting.  But that was just the start. I needed actions behaviors, practices, and efforts. 

It's a guarantee for me, in living gratefully and in alcoholism recovery, that I need to act my way into right thinking, not think my way into right actions. Slowly but surely, the efforts pay back. 

Here are some of the practices that have and continue to help me tap into gratefulness:

1. Keeping a gratitude journal. I used to do this daily. It got a little stale for me. I strive for 3-4 times a week now.  I usually write a couple gratitudes and also a couple intentions for people to whom I am sending good and healing energy. 

2. Read the gratitudes of others. It takes a moment to read, so the pause is a good start. It never fails that when I read other people's examples of what they are grateful for today, I end up relating and having similar feelings for someone or something in my life.  

A great place to read ongoing gratitude from others and contribute your own if you would like is on Steve Foran's Gratitude at Work website. I especially encourage you to sign up for the "One Billion Happier People" opportunity. Hope to see you there! 

3. When creating passwords, use words or numbers, parts of names or places, that bring you a reminder of someone or something you appreciate in your life.  Be creative. It makes a stronger password and simply typing it in can be enough to get a brain back on track. 

4. Look up at the sky for a moment. Regardless of time of day and amount of light. If you don't feel anything, take a couple of deep breaths in and out and look again. What do you see and feel? It always humbles me, and humility and gratefulness complement one another. It also connects me to Great Spirit and to others. Funny how a vast sky can help me feel less, not more, alone. 

What's on your action list?  Don't have one yet?  Which of the four above would you find yourself most likely to try?  They all will work. But I can't convince you of that. Only you can convince yourself. 


  1. Someone wrote me a poem once and I use that as a password...means a lot to me!


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