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Gratitude Defies Analysis

     Shortly after my cancer surgery last fall Dad brought me a Reader’s Digest and recommended an article about the newly discovered benefits of sleep. I guess he figured I’d have plenty of time for sleep since I could hardly move from the bed to the couch. Wasn’t going to be doing much dancing late into the night.

     I read the article and smiled. More sleep would bring me a raise at work, an energized sex life, perfect health and clear judgment. Smiled more at some of those than the others… Later Dad admitted he hadn’t read the article himself, but he thought it would be helpful to me at the time.

     As it happened, there was another article in that little magazine. I happened upon it as I was leafing – um, laughing through the jokes. This other article was about being grateful. It compared the superior quality of life of thankers to the low quality lives of complainers. Of course, it told you exactly how to become a thanker – in case you were one of those complaining types.

     At the end of each day, as you’re lying quietly in bed, you’re supposed to think of three things you’re grateful for. This will improve your quality of life so that it’s better than that of people who don’t wait ’til they’re in bed to find things to complain about. If you do this every night starting tonight, you’ll be successful in your career, get a raise next week, have a topnotch relationship with your family, even with… Oops! and you’ll win the lottery and find the key you lost last September.

     Of course, it isn’t quite that simple. After you name three things, you must tell yourself exactly why you’re grateful for those particular things. Three reasons apiece is enough, but six would be better.

     After the surgery it was rough getting myself into bed and a whole lot tougher figuring out how to get my scrunched-up abdomen into a comfortable position. One night I decided to give the gratitude thing a try.

     Three things – not so hard. After the second grateful, you get into it. Birds singing today, son helped me get out of my chair, doctor did an excellent job – no painkillers required, Dad’s roses so beautiful, no one called from work to ask for information from my files, found something I could eat today that didn’t taste like copper or lead or whatever it was they put down my throat for the anesthetic. Whoops, s’posed to be only three. And why? I forgot to say why for each one.

     Birds singing – why am I grateful for that? Because I like music? Because I like birds? Because I haven’t heard any birds lately?

     Darn. Do I have to have a reason? I just like the sound of birds singing. Why am I grateful for my son helping me out of the chair? It was nice. Why? I don’t know. It was just nice. This isn’t working.

     I never did get the analyzing thing down and somewhere along the way I forgot the whole gratitude thing, but the other night, as I lay awake I remembered it and thought I’d try it again. Grateful I found a good person to hire; glad I’m back to as normal as I ever was; glad I remembered the gratitude thing; really glad I quit analyzing why.

     It was a good article and one of these days I’m going to master the why part of the drill but until then, I’ll just be grateful that I’m grateful without having to know why.

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