Maybe sometimes you have to teach things over and over before you actually get them yourself. I’ve referred to the “be– do-have” model in many presentations. I’ve been writing and speaking about attitudes associated with having more joy, laughter, and humor in your life for many years. Perhaps the penny finally dropped.

It also was helpful to listen to Julio Olalla speaking about emotions in the context of how we think about learning. Not only does he have one of the coolest names ever, but he has a delightful way of bringing these ideas home. Whenever we learn, it’s in a particular emotion or mood. It’s very different to learn something in a mood of anger from what it’s like to learn the same thing in the spirit of joy. What really struck me was what Julio said about gratitude and resentment. He described how if we’re in a mood of resentment, we’re thinking about what we deserve that we did not receive. If we are in a mood of gratitude, we are disposed to serve. I had never quite thought about it that way and it had me consider the word “de-serve.”

Martin Luther King Jr. said that everyone could be great, because everyone can serve. It is our nature to be interdependent and to contribute to others. When our attitude goes to resentment, it really does pull us out of our openness to serve. The appropriate flow of life really is to focus first on who we’re being before we focus on what we’re doing or concern ourselves with what we have. Whether or not it’s some kind of moral imperative, it simply makes life easier.

So here’s my challenge for the week: simply focus on being grateful. When I speak about the attitude of gratitude, I’ve heard myself say many times how virtually any situation in which you are feeling negative or a loss of power, you can shift it by looking for what you can be grateful for in that situation. Instead of being resentful for having to wait in line, we can be grateful that we have the opportunity for whatever it is that we are waiting.  After speaking on Thursday to the superb folks at Immigration and Settlement Service of the Catholic Social Services, one lovely participant told me a wonderful vignette about a man who traveled far to take photographs and had a series of misadventures. He realized that instead of being upset about having a flat tire, he could be grateful that he had a car; in place of being angry about the rain on his camera, he could be grateful that he had this wonderful thing to be taking pictures; rather than being disturbed by the challenges, he can be grateful for this whole opportunity to travel.

If you are interested in more about attitudes and practices for each day of the week, I have a little program that I call “love life laughing, practice lightheartedness.” You can download a one-page handout here: lllpl

I’m grateful for your readership. Wishing you a week of gratitude.

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