Attitude of Gratitude

By Joe Nelson | February 28, 2007 10:05 am

Minnesota finally got some snow this past weekend. It is beautiful and fairly deep, about 10–12 inches. Our usual bragging rights are simply about the cold, but now we have something we can play in. I like the snow today, but the other night I didn’t feel so kind.

The other night, my wife and I joined another couple to go to a special event for which my friend had bought tickets, so we were committed. The snow started to fall during the afternoon and came down at a steady clip while we got prepared to leave. Oh, did I mention that the event was 40 miles from our house? These 40 miles took 1½ hours of white-knuckling the wheel, and I was driving.


What I remember is that I kept my mouth shut most of the time, but under my breath I was uttering a number of expletives. The plows had not been out, but there were a number of other crazy people trying to drive in the same ruts I was driving in, so we would follow each other for a while and then brave a pass in an area that looked like it might be another lane.

To make a very long story short, we made it without incident. I don’t think it was smart to go, but it provides me with a contrast today, because today I am grateful for this snow. I walked my dog in this deep powder, which also wasn’t easy, but her joy in the snow reminded me that I also have a choice about how I look at events.

I could get wrapped up in a negative view that can lead to an approach to life that supports itself. If I see things negatively, I will verbalize them that way. I will also be more likely to seek people who share my beliefs, will support my righteous negativism, and will help me to stay where I am, negative and complaining.

I have another choice: I can develop this attitude of gratitude by practicing it, literally listing the things for which I am grateful and working this into a daily exercise. Try it; it will have a huge impact on your mood and the belief system you carry around each day.

I need to sign off for now so I can go out and shovel this damn (beautiful) snow. (Context is likely to have a bit of an impact on your attitude.)

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Joe Nelson: Joe is a psychotherapist in private practice in Minnesota, where he specializes in the psychology of chronic disease and sexual problems and works with couples, families, children, and teens. He has been a Licensed Psychologist since 1985 and has earned a master’s degree from St. Mary’s College Winona, a bachelor’s degree in social work from the University of Minnesota, and an associate’s degree in human services from the College of DuPage in Glen Ellyn, Illinois.

Joe has worked with troubled youth in Chicago and Minnesota and on a special project on Turtle Mountain Reservation in North Dakota. He was the first social worker hired by an affiliate of the American Diabetes Association. He worked at the International Diabetes Center for 20 years, directing psychological services there for 12 years. A Certified Sex Therapist, Joe co-developed the Sexual Health Center at Park Nicollet Clinic.

Having practiced meditation for over 30 years, Joe offers instruction in mindfulness-based meditation to patients in groups and as individuals. Joe is married, has a 23-year-old daughter, and enjoys scuba diving, motorcycling, golf, and being outdoors doing almost anything.

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