Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Gratitude by Melody Beattie

Beattie, Melody. Gratitude: Affirming the Good Things in Life. New York: MJF Books, 1992.

The underlying premise of the book is that the way we think leads to the type of life we have. Thoughts of deprivation lead to a life of lack, where even the things we have seem to be nothing. Gratitude makes what we have seem like more and leads to more of what we want. It makes what we have available for our enjoyment and opens us to hope for even better.

Beattie doesn’t present gratitude as a quick fix or a fast way to get what you want. Gratitude is hard, especially for those who are in the habit of think about what they lack. Gratitude doesn’t start when everything is good (though that is something for which to be grateful); it begins now by accepting what you have as things are and being thankful for them.

This acceptance isn’t resignation. It is looking at reality and accepting what is a beginning point, as all right for today. It is setting aside illusions and starting where you actually are. Gratitude is supported by acceptance, and Beattie gives is a lot of attention.

Beattie admits that she faked gratitude at first. She affirmed her thankfulness even when she wasn’t feeling it. She used affirmations to support her gratitude and counter negative thoughts. Eventually, this led to a change in attitude than made gratitude easier.

The path of gratitude takes some unexpected turns. Self-nurture and self-discipline are expressions of gratitude because they demonstrate that we appreciate and respect our life. Goals are and expression of thankfulness because they are “gratitude in action” and “build on what we already have.”

This book is assembled from excerpts from some of Beattie’s other books (Codependent No More, Beyond Codependency: And Getting Better All the Time and The Language of Letting Go). It is organized and edited to read as a single piece, not simply a collection of excerpts.