An Oldie But a Goodie from (11/23/09)- What’s in your bucket?
I have many sources of inspiration, but few compete with what I see every day in the 15 x 13 foot space that I like to call my “Adjustitorium.” My patients never cease to surprise me. In the midst of financial upheaval, job insecurity, media frenzy and legitimate economic contraction, our patients remain steadfastly grateful.
As a common thread that weaves through so many lives in this community, I feel qualified to assess and compelled to recognize the level of genuine thankfulness that I witness each and every day. I stand awestruck at the depth and sincerity of the graciousness expressed so freely by this group of people. A contagious, infectious attitude of appreciation spreads between patients, staff and doctors. And I get to stand in the middle of it.
Outsiders often question me about the rising stress and despair that I must be hearing about from our robust patient interface. They are usually taken a-back when I honestly reply to the contrary. These people are authentically thankful. Thankful for something…anything…everything.
I want to stop and recognize this group of people for being extraordinary. Not because they are gifted – or oblivious – but because they have chosen to have an extraordinary attitude.
Every day we get to choose our attitude. Thankfulness is a choice, not a feeling. It’s a decision, not a sentiment.
If we wait for our situation, circumstances, or environment to produce a feeling of thankfulness, we’ll be in for a bumpy ride. Our attitude is best described by Dr. James MacDonald as “a way of thinking developed over a long period of time.” We develop our attitude by repeating thoughts and responses over and over again. Like wearing a path in a rug, our brain simply starts firing neurons along a familiar course. This repeated practice develops a reflexive tract of thinking and reacting that inwardly directs us and outwardly defines us. Ask the people who know you best.
MacDonald goes on to describe our hearts as a bucket that we fill with our attitude over our lifetime. You can’t see what’s in this bucket until you bump it and its contents spill out.
Our circumstances may be challenging and seem out of our control at times, but our attitudes are always ours to choose. Replace criticism with acceptance. Choose gratitude over frustration. Dilute complaining with thankfulness.
If you say Grace this week, thank God for the clarity of sight, the resolve of faith, and the ability to choose an attitude of thankfulness. Following the events of the last two years, we shouldn’t be asking whether or not there will be bumps in the road along the way. Instead, the better question to ask is when they do happen, what spills out of your bucket?
In Thanksgiving for you all,
Dr. Stephen Franson