There was a funny looking cartoon character in the ‘70’s called Ziggy.  Sometimes in the cartoon he walked around with a little gray cloud above his head.  Then he would look at a little flower growing in the crack of the sidewalk and “poof” the little cloud was gone in the next frame.

Last week, I was rushing out the door and while getting into the car spilled coffee on my white sweater and slacks.  Running back into the house to change clothes I spent the next few minutes talking badly about myself for not paying attention to what I was doing, making myself late, probably ruining my white sweater with a coffee stain, and in general being a klutz.  If I had been in a Ziggy cartoon, there would have been a little gray thundercloud hanging over my head.

After changing clothes, I looked in the mirror and noticed my earrings still matched my outfit.  I was grateful for that small thing.  Having acknowledged something to be grateful for changed how I was feeling

Looking in the mirror I realized that I was no Sophia Loren, but I did look OK.  I was grateful for that small thing.  In just a few minutes I was getting back in the car and noticed that none of the coffee had spilled in the car.  I was grateful for another little thing.  Being grateful for the little things began to change how I was thinking, behaving (I was smiling now), and feeling about myself.  “Poof” the little thundercloud over my head was gone, it was a good day – , I felt good and was thankful for some little things that had gone right.

Now, let’s rewind this picture back to the point of throwing on clean clothes after spilling the coffee.

What if I had looked in the mirror and instead found something else to complain about.  For example, “My clothes look worn out.  My hair looks shaggy.”  I still realize that I am no Sophia Loren (gentlemen, use Paul Newman in this illustration), but I say things to myself like, “I always look bad and should not even go out of the house today looking like this.”  My negative thoughts about all the things I could complain about would change how I was thinking, behaving and feeling.   I imagine the thundercloud over my head would have become larger and grayer.

The simple act of acknowledging things to be grateful for can change our thoughts, actions, and mood.  According to Emmons and McCullough, gratitude is the “forgotten factor” in happiness research.  Their research suggests that those who participate in gratitude daily are more likely to make progress toward important personal goals, are more optimistic, and feel better about their lives as a whole.  The College of Executive Coaching notes that gratitude is one of the top five strengths most highly related to overall life satisfaction.

You can develop an “Attitude of Gratitude” during the month of Thanksgiving.  Take time to be thankful for the big and little things that life offers:

Family – regardless how distant or underfoot

Friends – regardless how few or overwhelming

Home – regardless how humble or too large to keep clean

Flowers – growing in the garden or between the cracks in the sidewalk. and

Country – the reason for celebrating Thanksgiving.

Develop an “Attitude of Gratitude” – Step One:

Today, write down 5 things you are thankful for and each day until Thanksgiving, add another item to your list.  Review your list daily and express your gratitude in the best way for you.

Develop an “Attitude of Gratitude” – Step Two:

Next time you have a little gray cloud over your head because of some event (for example, a poor score in your weekly bowling league), be grateful for the big and small things.  For example:  you can bowl, the lady who works the grill knows your name and smiles at you, you have a community of friends at the bowling lanes, and your bowling shoes do not hurt your feet.

The positive thoughts associated with being grateful can change the way you think about yourself and the world around you.

Getting back to my story, I pulled out of the driveway with a little sunshine over my head, and said a word of thanks for the little pansies that year after year are determined to grow in the crack of the sidewalk rather than my garden.

Have a “Grateful” Thanksgiving!