Can gratitude help us have a more joyful life? Well M.J. Ryan tells us why she believes this to be true in her book, Attitudes of Gratitude: How to Give and Receive Joy Every Day of Your Life. Ryan shares her personal experiences and those of others who have overcome obstacles and still maintain attitudes of thankfulness and gratitude.
The book is divided into three sections. The first focuses on the gifts of gratitude, the second is about attitudes of gratitude and the final section is about the practices of gratitude. It is a compilation of short essays that tell stories of how gratitude has impacted lives. Each essay is preceded by a quote on gratitude that sets the stage for the stories that follow.
In one essay Ryan stresses that it is impossible to feel both the positive emotion of thankfulness and a negative emotion such as anger or fear at the same time. Gratitude she feels births only positive feelings like love, joy and hope. In another chapter she talks about worry and gratitude. Worry is about the future where gratitude is appreciation in the current moment. She shares the story of a 75 year old woman who was diagnosed with a malignant brain tumor and scheduled for surgery. While waiting for the operation, she gave thanks for all the wonderful things in her life. She wrote a letter of thanks to each of her family members and went to the hospital. As it turned out the tumor was gone and she was sent home without surgery.
As with other books about gratitude the theme throughout is about practicing thankfulness on a daily basis. It reminds me of the Chicken Soup for the Soul books. There are lessons to be learned from each story. You have the freedom of reading the entire book or reading one chapter and spending the time to reflect on its meaning or just plow through the book until the end. Whatever your preference I would recommend this book to anyone who wants an easy read that makes him or her feel joy and happiness.