Good Pickles and Gratitude

What in the world do good pickles and gratitude have to do with one another?  Well hang tight, we will get to that in a moment.  But first, let me start with a confession.  It’s one that I’m not proud of, and so if it’s okay, I’ll just whisper my little secret to you very quietly so as to keep it just between the two of us.  Is that okay?  You promise not to tell?  Okay, here goes…”When I was a young man, I was very ungrateful…and sometimes I still struggle with being ungrateful today”.  Whew!  Confession really is good for the soul as I feel better already!  But don’t tell anyone, ok?

It Starts With Gratitude

So what exactly is gratitude?  In its simplest form, gratitude is a feeling of thankfulness.  It can be for something really big like a good report from the doctor or maybe something smaller like getting extra sprinkles on your ice cream cone!  They key to experiencing gratitude is consciously choosing to be present and be thankful for both the big and small things in life.   And let’s be honest, it’s much easier to be thankful for those big things.  But life is usually made up of many more mundane moments than big breathtaking moments.  So the challenge is being able to consistently be grateful for the simple, small and almost invisible moments that we take for granted.

The opposite of being grateful is of course being ungrateful.  And in its worst form, it shows up as entitlement. When I was in my twenties, it was very easy for me to drift into a full blown sense of entitlement!  After all, I had worked hard, received my college degree, had a good job and had sadly bought into the myth that I was entitled to all that life had to offer.  I see this same sense of entitlement running rampant throughout our society today.

Entitlement starts at a young age with children demanding that their parents meet all of their wants and desires.  It continues with young adults in their mid to late twenties mooching off of their parents.  This sense of entitlement (and lack of gratitude) may be most evident with the myriad of Government aid programs that are being milked and abused by countless of able bodied adults.  And the list goes on.  At the heart of it all are the twin spirits of ungratefulness and entitlement.

What Wall is Your Ladder Leaned Up Against?

Additionally, many of us spend our entire lives climbing the proverbial ladder that’s leaned against the wrong wall.  Why is this?  Perhaps we are hyper focused on trying to achieve all of the things we DON’T have instead of being grateful for all that we DO have.

When I was a little boy, my sweet mamma used to tell me that, when she gets down about not having all that she would like to have, she pretends that everything she does have has just been taken from her.  She lives in that sadness for a moment and then imagines how grateful she would be if everything that had been taken was suddenly returned.  It’s a simple exercise, but I challenge you to try it and feel the profound sense of joy you will receive when you “get your stuff back”!

Okay, so I promised to tell you how good pickles and gratitude go together.  In my late twenties, I was doing very well financially and decided to take my family, my mother, and my mother’s cousin to dinner.  It was a nice restaurant, and I wanted it all to be perfect…after all, I way paying.  Oh I was such a cocky young snot!  Anyway, things went wrong from the start.  It took forever to get a table.  The wait staff was slow to take our orders.  Some of the orders were wrong.  Anything and everything that could go wrong seemed to be happening.  Murphy’s Law was in full force and had a stranglehold on our evening.

At one point, I looked up and everybody at the table was griping and grumbling…except for Myrna.  Myrna is my mom’s cousin.  She lives on a fixed budget and rarely if ever gets to eat out.  Just as I was listening to all of us complaining about the night, Myrna looks up at me and smiles and then says cheerfully, “These sure are GOOD PICKLES!”  Wow, she was oblivious to all of the ungratefulness the rest of us were showing and simply chose to focus and be thankful for something as small as a pickle.  Lesson learned.  Now, many years later, when I find myself being ungrateful and griping and complaining, I try to find something to be grateful about…and then whisper under my breath, “These sure are good pickles”.