WOSTER: Attitude of gratitude helps in rough timesI belong to a club where people sometimes talk about having “an attitude of gratitude.”
By: Terry Woster, The Daily Republic
I belong to a club where people sometimes talk about having “an attitude of gratitude.”
It’s the kind of club where people use simple slogans like that. Some people probably do it because they heard the old-timers in the group use the same phrases. Some people use the slogans, perhaps, because it sounds cool or makes them feel like they’re really part of the group.
Those aren’t bad reasons to use simple slogans, but I think the best reason is pretty basic. I get all caught up in the world around me, worrying about slights and hurts — real or imagined — and making sure I have my place in the universe and my share of the dream.
Sometimes when I can remember to say something simple like “an attitude of gratitude” often enough, it reminds me for a while of all the things in my life for which there is ample reason to be deeply grateful.
It’s a way, I suppose, of pausing to take inventory of my many blessings, the way I sometimes remember to do on Thanksgiving Day (and then promptly forget the following day in the leftovers and holiday sales and Christmas preparations).
When I do pause to take stock of my blessings, I often also reflect on a favorite Thanksgiving memory. It comes from way, way back — nearly 60 years — when I was a kid and traveled with my mom, dad and brothers and sisters to Kansas City to spend the holiday with Uncle George and Aunt Jo and the Kansas City cousins, as we called them when they came to see us on the farm. (When we showed up in Kansas City to see them, they’d shout that South Dakota was pulling into the drive.)
One of the most frequently played songs on radio stations and in stores in Kansas City that holiday year was “Count Your Blessings Instead of Sheep,” sung by Rosemary Clooney (with Bing Crosby in the movie, but the song in my memory only has Clooney’s voice). I was just a kid, but I knew enough to understand that the singer was saying something pretty important when she sang, “If you’re worried and you can’t sleep, just count your blessings, instead of sheep, and you’ll fall asleep, counting your blessings.”
It’s a simple set of lyrics, set to a simple melody, but it wraps into about three minutes just about everything a person needs to know about giving thanks and trying to maintain an attitude of gratitude.
This year along the Missouri River where I live, it would be easy to forget that attitude of gratitude. A lot of people suffered crushing losses because of a summer of flooding on the river. The misery has been shared from Minot in upper North Dakota to Bismarck, Pierre and Fort Pierre, Yankton and Dakota Dunes and down into Iowa and Nebraska and farther on downstream.
It hasn’t been easy for people. The clean-up and recovery are still heavy lifting, and they will continue to be for some time.
Still, people came together to help each other when help was desperately needed. Governments helped and volunteer groups and churches and all sorts of other organizations pitched in, but at the bottom, it was neighbor helping neighbor and friend helping friend — and way more often than you might have expected, stranger helping stranger. I’m grateful that when things are at their worst, people can be at their best.
I’m saddened at how many people suffered losses, but I’m grateful that many of them will try to rebuild their lives and remain a part of my community. It would be a lesser place without them.
And there is this: Back in 1972, I was a young reporter sent to cover the Rapid City flood. Overnight, 238 people lost their lives, although we didn’t know that number for days and days. I used to type updated lists of the dead and the missing onto the Associated Press wire each day.
I saw sad things, tragic things this past summer during the flooding on the Missouri River, but I didn’t see a list of dead or missing. For that, I am thankful.