January 5, 2012 at 10:08 am EST | by Kevin M. Norris
Gratitude and serenity

This is the time of year to make resolutions, right?  Well, yes, but resolutions based on a date and time of year tend to be tenuous at best.

Making a decision to alter a behavior, take an action or stop procrastinating over a particular task cannot be accomplished based on a date on the calendar. Yes, changes involve action, but more importantly change involves perspective and a state-of-mind and daily habits.

So this week I am not providing you with resolution tips — you’re on your own there. But what I do want to share is how grateful I am to be alive and healthy.

Today, I learned that a friend lost his battle with cancer. Peter was taken far too soon and the world has lost a great soul. Last week, I attended a funeral for a friend’s Mom. Anyone of us or someone dear to us could die tomorrow or now. Too melodramatic? I think not, and while I may be sounding morose the point I am trying to make is that we all have something to live for. We all, despite our circumstances can find something to be grateful for, if only for being alive.

I am generally a daily journal writer and I sometimes write a gratitude list, particularly when I am feeling like my life does not amount to anything and that I have nothing going for me. Yes, it is rather reactive and my resolution (remember, I am not writing about resolutions this week) this year is to be more proactive and less reactive, better preparing me for living life on life’s terms. When I write the gratitude list I always feel better — it sounds like an oversimplified exercise with useless merit — but it works for me and always lifts my spirit.

I know for me I am lifted when I acknowledge I am grateful for having my life and not someone else’s. Essentially, my perspective is that my cards have been dealt and while I may be able to shuffle the cards, I can’t change the deck. And my life is my own to live it how I choose.

This may all sound very esoteric but isn’t there enough complaining in this world and can’t we all benefit from a regular dose of gratitude? And can’t we all create an experience that allows us to thrive and prevail despite what life throws at us?

I have no hair, my computer sucks, I don’t have a boyfriend and the convenience store clerk is not paying me enough attention. I can find just about anything big or small to complain about – it’s really easy for me, too easy perhaps. My challenge is remembering the good in my life, again big or small. And I believe that gratitude should coincide with compassion, love and understanding.

I learned the Serenity prayer at a young age from my Mom who recited it regularly as a reprieve from living with an alcoholic, my Dad. It may have seemed to have gone in one ear and out the other back then, but it resonates quite a bit with me today.  And whether you believe in God or not its message is non-denominational and you don’t have to be in recovery or a 12-step program to embrace it.

For those unfamiliar — it goes, “Lord grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can and the wisdom to know the difference.” I can recall countless situations where I recited this prayer over and over again in my head to help me through a difficult situation.

So if I have caught your attention and you have read this far, I am giving you a daily assignment. I will keep it very simple for you — your job, should you choose to accept it, is two-fold. First, write down three things you are grateful for. Keep it simple and remember the basics like I have food and shelter today. Also, add to this list as often as possible so you see there are more than just three things in your life to be grateful for. Second, tell at least one person each day that you are grateful for having them in your life and why.

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