Gratitude: The Secret of Happiness

“if you have enough breath to complain about anything, you have more than enough reason to be thankful for something.”

– Mattie Stepanek

That is one of my favorite quotes. Considering that the one who said it had to use a ventilator in order to breathe, it’s all the more powerful. Mattie was grateful for his life in the midst of his circumstances and remained joyful. He wasn’t a complainer. And there was much that he could have complained about. After all, he was raised by his mother who had the same disease in adulthood, lost several of his siblings when they were very young, had to use a wheelchair, needed a ventilator, etc. But he wasn’t given to complaining, rather, he spent more time giving thanks. Gratitude. That was  Mattie’s secret as to why he was joyful and not bitter.

Sometimes we find ourselves in situations where it’s difficult not to complain. Reflecting on my own life, it’s usually when I’m faced with some kind of perceived injustice or slight against me or people I’m sympathizing with, or some difficulty or imagined difficulty I’m having. I’m so blessed and privileged to even be able to have the ability to complain—- I can breathe, I have life. It’s when I take a moment to stop and realize this, the strong feelings of wanting to complain start to subside and everything falls into perspective.

It’s important and necessary to be thankful. We can hardly live on this earth without being people of gratitude because there’s always something we can complain about. We will go completely crazy thinking about the difficulties and whatnot. Looking at it more positively, we have to have this “attitude of gratitude” in order to appreciate life. Hopefully we will eventually begin seeing blessings all around us to the point of seeing them even behind the difficulties and suffering.

Ultimately, who is it that we are thankful to if not to God “from whom all blessings flow.” Everything we have is a gift, including that next breath we take. Our very existence is a gift to us. Our talents, treasures, abilities, friends, families, and even the selfless good works that we do our gift to us from God. Sometimes some non-Catholic Christians get it twisted and think that Catholicism teaches that we ourselves are responsible for our good works and can even earn our salvation through them. That is not what Catholic Christianity teaches. Not all. On the contrary, we believe that God gives us the grace to do good works in order to cooperate with him in his saving plan. Not only that, he shares his glory with us in making us his children – – this is the principle behind our understanding of Saints with a capital S. There is much to be thankful for. How immeasurably generous God is to us!

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