Gratitude

by Al Smith

guest blog post by Jack B

 

Gratitude

Gratitude.  I keep repeating that word over and over. It is my silent mantra and one that I hope will help me change my current attitude.

 That is because at the moment I have a bad attitude. I have a long list of grievances that are chapping my hide and am frustrated because instead of shrinking the list seems to be growing.

 I won’t talk to certain friends about it because I don’t want to hear about how it can always be worse. I know that. Fact is that someone very dear to me just lost her father to a terrible disease. Another friend lost her baby and someone else I know lost her sister and mother in September.

 Lost being the euphemism I am using for death, that is.

 So I know damn well that it could be worse and I am just not interested in hearing about it. It is not helpful and it is not going to make my crap disappear.

 But I am a father and I don’t get to go to the local dive bar, get drunk and start a barroom brawl. Got to tell you that there is a part of me that sort of wants to try that but there is a much bigger part of me that doesn’t like getting hit and isn’t willing to deal with the hangover that comes with it.

 Besides if I want to engage in major acts of stupidity I can think of things that are far more fun and far less painful than that brawl I mentioned. You should really just pretend that I never wrote about it, or if you must focus upon it blame it upon having seen too many Westerns.

 If you watch enough of those you can’t help but want to have the chance to break a bottle on some cowboy’s head or break a chair across his back. And of course you have to throw someone through the window or the swinging doors.

 Call me selfish, juvenile or whatever you want but I would be grateful for the opportunity to do those things without getting hurt.

 So let’s circle back to that word again. Let’s form a posse and try to capture the sometimes elusive feeling of gratitude and figure out how to make it meaningful.

 That is something that I do every day. I work hard to find ways to make the important things meaningful to my children. I work hard to find ways to make sure that they can relate to the values that I think are important. I work hard to try and find ways to help them become productive members of society.

 Maybe that is my angle because just thinking about my kids takes the edge off of me. Just thinking about them reminds me that there is magic in the world and I get to see it every day.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                             

                                                                                                                                             

 Because every time I see them smile or hear them laugh-it is magic. And every time I do I remember that maybe it is not so hard to be grateful after all. Sure, things could be better but they could be a whole lot worse.

 Gratitude- it is a word that I am trying to live by.

 

The Jack B. is a writer and author of 39 unpublished books and three screenplays. A former athlete and would be superhero he still fights for truth, justice and the American Way. Though he may look like a grown man, don’t fool yourself, he is still a boy at heart. When he is not engaged in Walter Mitty like fantasies he is a husband, father and friend and blogs at TheJackB

“When you’re in jail, a good friend will be trying to bail you out. A best friend will be in the cell next to you saying, ‘Damn, that was fun’.” — Groucho Marx

 

Other places to find Jack:

Random Thoughts -  Do they have meaning ?

Twitter: http://twitter.com/TheJackB

About me

 

{ 21 comments… read them below or add one }

Lori Gosselin November 11, 2011 at 8:42 am

Hi Jack, (Hi Al)
You seem to have a magic formula for finding the magic in your life; your children.I didn’t recognize this as much when I was in the phase of life you’re in as I do now. Maybe when I’m a grandma (sorry – a Sittie) I’ll be more aware. I’m learning that there are many different things you could observe in any given moment and that you can choose which one to give your attention to. Even now, though my kids are grown and away at their respective schools, when I count my blessings, I begin with them.
Happy 11.11.11
Lori
Lori Gosselin recently posted..Coincidence: Fact or Fiction

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Jack @ TheJackB November 11, 2011 at 1:13 pm

Hi Lori,

Life has “forced” me to wake up and pay more attention. When I look at my blog I see a number of themes that are tied into various experiences I have had. Some of that has helped/made me pay more attention.

But I can’t say that I always noticed during the moment because many times it was afterwards. Happy 11.11.11 to you too.
Jack @ TheJackB recently posted..The Importance of Gratitude

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Claudia November 11, 2011 at 9:24 am

Hi Jack,
It is kind of interesting how we all have the “tools” that we need to carry on in life but sometimes our tools are misplaced or perhaps rusty and we need to look outside of ourselves to refresh our tools. But, often when we take that “risk” and seek outside support, the support is cock-eyed and turns into a “it could be worse” fest. We inherently “know” that things can always be worse. We also inherently “know” that we “should” be grateful or happy or compassion or _____ fill in the blank. But sometimes, we just need a hand….not a slap in the face…just a gentle hand. As Lori said, you DO seem to have the hand that you need to remind you of your deep gratitude…for you at this time, it is the sweet and loving hand of your children. And, usually, that’s all it takes to get us back on track with gratitude and harmony.
Thanks for a lovely post (as usual) Jack and, Al….you ROCK!!
Claudia
Claudia recently posted..We Did the Monster Mash – Imagination and Halloween

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Al Smith November 11, 2011 at 9:29 am

Wow. Thanks Claudia. I Rock ? (Please don’t ask my 17 year old) Allrighty then.
I am Rockin. Woo Hoo !

Al

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Jack @ TheJackB November 11, 2011 at 1:16 pm

Hi Claudia,

My kids are often my conduit to learning/knowing/experiencing things that help me as a person and as a father.

You are right about the distinction between hand and slap. That slap isn’t very effective for most people and when you are ornery like me it only irritates you.
Jack @ TheJackB recently posted..The Importance of Gratitude

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Al Smith November 11, 2011 at 9:36 am

Thanks Jack. Love this post. You are such a gifted writer. What a great topic on Veterans Day. Gratitude. Wow. Anyway, we all struggle with this sometimes. Some more than others. As I have gotten older, I have come to appreciate the value of being grateful. More and more. I try and start my day with gratitude. Every day. It really helps set the tone for the day and opens my heart to be more giving and receiving of good things. Throughout the day.

Like so many have said in other posts on gratitude; make a gratitude list. I know…….. Just Do It ! First thing in the morning. Write someone or something down that you are ghrateful for. Try it. It works.

Thanks again Jack. Have a GREAT – Ful day !

Al

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Jack @ TheJackB November 11, 2011 at 1:36 pm

Hi Al,

I appreciate your giving me the opportunity to share these thoughts with everyone. Veteran’s Day really is appropriate for it- kind of lucked out with that.

If you can start each day with gratitude it has to set a good tone. I think it is great that you do that. It is something that I have done in the past but probably not as consistently as I should.
Jack @ TheJackB recently posted..Three Stories

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Al Smith November 11, 2011 at 1:40 pm

Thanks Jack. I said, I TRY and do it every day. It is a much better day when I do. Practice and more Practice.

Al

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Ali November 11, 2011 at 12:51 pm

Hi Al and Jack – I love the realness of this post. It’s true – yes, it could be worse, we all know it, but some days I just want to stiff-arm those people who say that and respond with “BLAH BLAH BLAHHH!!” Or close my eyes, put my fingers in my ears and do the ol’ “la la la la la…” I think it’s important to allow ourselves to feel like this once in a while rather than pretend like it’s not happening or shouldn’t happen (of course given that this isn’t our every day state. If that’s the case, maybe it would be a good idea to drink a bottle at the local bar and start a brawl – it may smack us out of our funk.) I try to let the mood happen, know that this too will pass, and then notice the good things – as you say, your children and the magic they bring to your world. I don’t have kids, but for me it’s something as small as the changing of the leaves on my drive to work, a group of bees flying around collecting pollen, or the smell of a crispy fall night. Reminds me that things have a funny way of working themselves out, and of all the life around us. I then get to work and get busy plugging my ears and stiff-arming people ;)
Ali recently posted..Crispy Panko Poppers (Vegetarian Style)

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Jack @ TheJackB November 11, 2011 at 2:40 pm

Hi Ali,

I may have been in one or two of those misunderstandings in a bar and I may know what it feels like to be hit. Got to say that it not all that exciting to be hit- at least I am not fond of it. But then again there is a certain “tingle” that you get when you are the one doing the hitting or so I have heard.

But these children of mine they are the real magicians in my world and I am grateful to have these little monsters roaming around because they bring light and help those moods pass more quickly.

A good stiff arm helps too although it helps if you do it on a field while holding a football. That doesn’t guarantee that people won’t be upset with you, but it does minimize things somewhat. ;)
Jack @ TheJackB recently posted..The Importance of Gratitude

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Bill Dorman November 11, 2011 at 1:38 pm

Kids will take an edge off and make you appreciative and also keep your willingness to brawl in a bar down to a minimum. I don’t know if you can do that without getting hurt and I did see someone get hit over the head with a bottle and it wasn’t quite like it happens in the movies. I was always afraid someone was going to hurt my face……….:). Of course, if you have a face only a grandmother can love what does it matter, huh?

Good to see you at Al’s and I will let you wallow around awhile longer before I remind you how it could be a lot worse……….

Hope you have a great weekend.
Bill Dorman recently posted..I was almost duped into oblivion

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Jack @ TheJackB November 11, 2011 at 2:41 pm

Some of us have mugs that belong behind bars or should only be seen from the radio. The smarter people know some of these things and understand that gratitude is something useful, meaningful and important.

Wish I was one of them. ;) Hope your day is going well.
Jack @ TheJackB recently posted..The Importance of Gratitude

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Craig McBreen November 11, 2011 at 5:10 pm

Hi Jack,

Like Al said, you are a gifted writer and you always write what you are feeling … so well. I think back to one of the posts you wrote on you blog about some overzealous parent/coach. I’ve been in similar situations, but didn’t have to guts to simply say what I was feeling. You did. And you write like that as well.

We do our best to get by, but sometimes life can be a bit too much. It’s hard absorbing all this stuff. Hard. I’m constantly working at being positive and practicing gratitude, thinking of how lucky I am. I could be some poor kid in a slum somewhere, but I’m not. Even so, I think you can allow yourself to feel this way. It’s almost impossible to not.

It is possible I might know what it’s like to get into a bit of a barroom brawl ;) Well not quite a brawl, but there was a lot of anger in my past and it got me into trouble sometimes.

Yes, practice gratitude, even when those kids of yours are being a pain ;)
Craig McBreen recently posted..I love my dad and my mom is my hero

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Jack @ TheJackB November 11, 2011 at 8:37 pm

Craig,

My writing is a decent reflection of who I am. I kind of lay a lot of it out there- but I don’t know how to do it any other way.

I think we are all entitled to having moments of frustration and anger. It is impossible to be in a constant state of bliss and gratitude and that is ok. The question to me isn’t so much can I do that but how long do I allow myself to dwell in darkness.

For me it is always about moments because I am lucky and I do have many good things in my life.
Jack @ TheJackB recently posted..The Importance of Gratitude

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Kaarina Dillabough November 11, 2011 at 6:07 pm

If you need a partner when you go to that barroom, I’m your gal:) Cheers! Kaarina
Kaarina Dillabough recently posted..Are you the person you dreamed you’d be?

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Barbara Klein November 12, 2011 at 3:48 am

Hi, Jack,

As Lori so aptly said “You seem to have a magic formula for finding the magic in your life: your children”, lucky you for having found it now in their early years.

“Lost being the euphemism I am using for death, that is.” We might feel lost (I certainly do) when so much sadness surrounds us, when nobody can answer the WHY and we seem to drown in a sea of grievances.

Does not the gratitude you experience when you see your children smile and laugh make you feel more rooted?

I need those two poles, my life takes place in between them. Sounds brave? I am not brave, just trying to be positive.
Barbara Klein recently posted..Double Celebration for Two Impressive Ladies

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Jack November 12, 2011 at 9:30 pm

HI Barbara,

I am very grateful for all that I have and for the affect that my children have on my life. They make it better and help me see the world in a much different way than before.
Jack recently posted..The Greatest Dad Blogger Of Them All

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Betsy Cross November 12, 2011 at 4:59 am

Hey Jack!
I NEVER run from those negative feelings or feel guilty for them. They are me at the moment and let me know what I value. But I can only cry or be angry for so long! The only thing that has consistently helped me to feel gratitude is to get around other people. I have to get away from my family, too. They’re too close and I take them for granted often.
But when I walk outside or through a store I always bump into a situation that humbles me.
Once I was just dumping food into my carriage when I saw an old man approaching me, pushing his cart. I was shocked when I saw a head of lettuce and a quart of milk sitting in the top of it. I watched him looking at the price of things and placing them back on the shelf, shuffling on. My heart broke! It was okay that I made the assumption that he was struggling financially. He may not have been. But my frame of mind went from hurried, ungrateful arrogance, to humility and gratitude. I REALLY needed to see that at that moment in time.
So, for me, I accept that I have strong emotions and a whole lot of space for more gratitude in my heart.
But instead of denying my pain I get away and hope for something to wake me up, Something bigger than me!
Betsy Cross recently posted..Six Degrees of Separation

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Jack November 12, 2011 at 9:31 pm

Hi Betsy,

I can appreciate how that would work for you. There are always moments that help us see that the world is bigger than us.
Jack recently posted..The Importance of Gratitude

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Ryan November 13, 2011 at 5:10 pm

Hello Jack,

Attitude is everything for me. Showing gratitude towards others is next. It just shows that you care about helping other people. I try to this this practice daily in my life with family and friends hoping that when I show gratitude, it will resonate and create a positive effect on people.
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