An Attitude of Gratitude

It’s been a pleasure speaking to groups around North Dakota this past week, in part because I was asked a lot of intelligent questions, which really forced me to think about the answers.

snow on fields

One young woman asked how I maintained a positive attitude when times were difficult, when my husband died, when there is a seeming unending pile of work to do, when my children are heading in what I think is the wrong direction.

The answer is that I try every day to wake up grateful, and it really is pretty easy if you are realistic and honest about your situation.

Read any history book – and not ancient history, either – about people breaking the film of ice on the pan of water IN THEIR HOUSE, as they started their day, to wash clothes or make coffee.

Even today, people wake up sleeping under bridges, on the ground in refugee camps. I’ve lived in old houses where the wind blows through cracks in the winter.

North Dakota is cold and for almost the entire history of the world there wasn’t much anyone could do about it. Yes, people discovered fire, hunted, had deer skins, tipis. However, it was nothing like the last few days when I woke up every morning, warm and comfortable, in well-insulated houses, on soft mattresses under a pile of quilts.

Being at Minot State University reminded me of my own graduate school days at the University of Minnesota. They had tunnels under the campus, connecting buildings, for which I was extremely grateful because I was a broke, graduate student and I didn’t have enough money to buy a lot of warm clothes. Any time I had to go outside between buildings, I was SO cold.

These days, buying long underwear, gloves, warm coats, is something I don’t even give a thought. If I need it, I get it. Half the clothes I didn’t even buy – my daughters gave me sweaters and coats for Christmas or because they had more than they could use.

Maybe you think it’s silly to wake up grateful that I have warm clothes and a soft bed in a warm house, but I think it’s objective. There was a point in my life when I had neither. Most of the people who ever lived on this earth had nowhere near the level of comfort that I wake up to every day. If they (or me, decades ago), could be magically picked up and dropped into my life, their first thought on waking up would be,

“Oh my God, this is amazing!”

After laying in bed with that thought for a few minutes, I get out of bed.

Similar Posts


  1. “More can be learned from a mile of travel than 1,000 books.”
    Travel gives us perspective.
    It’s not silly to value the little things.
    We’d sooner miss the sum of them than many of the large things we have.
    We should be grateful.

  2. wise his words, really this yet and reality of many people in the world, the world of racial and social inequality among many others, which do not have WHAT eat what we are trying to cover a cold winter night in having to choose to assign an indoor hot and a plate of food to their children, that each of every human being before sleep and wake up instead of complaining of life, could thank for having a family, washed food and clothing covered hot etc, very beautiful words and admirable

  3. That is what it’s all about…destiny is created by our everyday choices. We determine our own history, speaking from a place of experience not expertise.

    Thank you for taking on the additional presentation and making a difference in the lives of young people you met. For me you have become a mentor of getting it right.

    Miigwetch…until the next time I see you.

  4. So refreshing to read of “An attitude of gratitude”. Contentment with what we have (especially when having so much (in the Western world) often breeds an I want more attitude) is indeed a grace.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *