Personal Accountability: My Attitude of Gratitude

Cereal. We all love cereal. There are “kid” cereals and “adult” cereals—and the truth is adults don’t mind a bowl of Fruit Loops or Captain Crunch now and then, do we? Come on, admit it!

But seriously, when it comes to cereal, do we have choices or what?!

You know, I’m not one of those guys who attempts to shame people into feeling thankful for all we have in America—but I do need to be personally accountable and work on me.

The good news is, I actually felt a little guilty today when I was in a grocery store and saw my options.

Overflowing, ever-present abundance!Overflowing, ever-present abundance!

I even thought, Am I thankful for all my choices?!?

My wife, Karen, is a real servant to people, our family and beyond. As a registered nurse (now retired, so “RN” stands for Retired Nurse), she was a giver. That’s why nurses are nurses—they like to care for people. To serve; to give. And she’s good at it. She considers others’ needs more than I do. Karen is also way more generous with something that I hold on to tightly:


Two Septembers in a row she gave of herself, investing time and energy traveling to Honduras with a group from our church. She wasn’t exactly sure what she’d be doing, but full of trust and faith, she went. Once there, my barely 5’ tall best friend since 1976 did things she’s never done before. The one that stands out is laying a concrete floor for a Honduran family.

For their garage to park a fine car on? A basketball court in their backyard? Hardly.

To live on. To sleep on. To do life on.

You see, a dirt floor had been their only option, their only choice. And when the church team turned it to concrete, Karen saw a family express more joy, gratitude, and thankfulness than I felt today walking through that grocery store.

For a cement floor.

I wish I could tell you that when I roamed the supermarket with choices everywhere, my head was spinning from too many blessings to count. But it wasn’t.

That’s what abundance at my fingertips does to me. Right now, as I write, I am warmed by our furnace, lounging in a comfy chair that sits on wall-to-wall carpeting, and not far from a fridge full of choices.

But am I thankful?

Not nearly enough.

Personally, I need to open my eyes to what’s around me—recognize how blessed I am—and let my head spin a bit. It would be good for me to get a little dizzy.

I’m going to work on that.

What are you thankful for?

Chime in with comments below. We’d love to hear from you!


77 Responses

  1. My fingers! My brother had a horrific workplace accident yesterday. They saved 2 of 3 fingers that were severed. The obvious answer is I’m thankful for life, for surgeons, for hospitals, my brother . . . but the simple answer is my thumb, my pointer finger, middle finger, ring finger and pinky.

  2. Proverbs 10:1 says “A wise son (or daughter) brings joy to his father (and mother).” I am thankful for children and their spouses who love and serve God with all their hearts. That is more meaningful than any financial gain or material possessions.

  3. I’m grateful that I as I go through law school and have a business that is not particularly financially successful and very much emotionally gratifying, that I’ve not missed a meal, paying a bill, having gas in my car, food in my refrigerator and clothes on my back. I’m also grateful for God putting it into my heart that 2013 is a year of surrender and of service. It’s been good.
    Thanks, John, for putting this out there. How about reporting back in 30 days and letting us know how your gratitude is holding up?

  4. After spending 4 years in the Navy and traveling around the world, I guess I’m most thankful to be an American. It’s easy for many people not to think about all the helpless people in other countries, unless you have seen it, there is really no way to appreciate just what we have in the USA.

    The freedom we have, as opposed to a ruthless Dictator who slaughters his own people for no reason other than he can. Countries where the police carry machine guns and can kill at will or little children begging on the street for a simple candy bar or something to eat!

    There are many things I’m thankful for, my health, my wife, my son, his wife and my 3 wonderful grandchildren, however, first and foremost must be the fact that I live in a free Country called America!

  5. I oftentimes pass out glass stones (the kind you put on the bottom of a fish bowl) to people and tell them it is a Gratitude Stone (from the book The Secret). Put the stone in your pocket or purse first thing in the AM. When you do, give gratitude for something in your life. Every time you see or feel it during the day, stop for a second and give gratitude for something in your life. Then in the evening before you go to bed, put the stone on your dresser and again give gratitude for something in your life. If you did this, it is amazing how you start looking for things to be grateful for. It works!

  6. This could be a very long list and no way that one piece of paper could hold all that I am thankful for…especially that my husband (and best friend), who nearly died 4 years ago from spinal meningitis, is alive, healthy and has a positive attitude that helps both of us keep going. He’s a paraplegic so life has changed and is sometimes difficult, but the new “normal” is OK and has many blessings. I’m thankful that I can be his legs and that we can still do most of the things we love most. And totally thankful each day that we have no major skin-break down, great doctors that handle constant bladder infections and other related problems which no one “sees” when looking at a guy in a wheelchair—and especially for a shoulder specialist who is doing everything he can to avoid a shoulder replacement. I’m really grateful for friends and family and the folks in the Sunday school class that he teaches who are supportive and loving beyond measure! And the kindness of strangers in parking lots who offer to help…who themselves often seem to be the one who would need help.

  7. Jesus Christ first and foremost. The founding fathers and the U.S. Constitution…may our inalienable rights continue…

  8. For many in this world 1 meal a day, a pair of shoes, a pair of warm clothing during winter, and a pair of glasses to read, is a luxury, I am thankful for whatever I have and the thankfulness increases exponentially when I share it with others ! this is the secret of my happiness!

  9. I am thankful for the opportunity to be a dad in a free society. Many families across the world struggle to raise kids in an environment that limits or stymies their ability to teach their children sound moral, ethical and responsible principles.

    As Americans we have many freedoms we take for granted but we can all teach our children that here they are free to see potential come to fruition. With a strong work ethic, a commitment to personal accountability and a sense of caring and compassion our children can achieve anything desired.

    But it will not matter unless we the parents show gratitude for the freedoms we have rather. than indifference that those freedoms will always be there.

  10. Let the Church say Amen! Good word John. I had the opportunity to go to India in 2011. I had been sending money there since 2005 but was finally able to make it there in person. When I came back home my patience level for the people here wasn’t much. I realized how much we complain about nothing. I saw people who had to use the bathroom outside in the grass along with the cows, goats, and dogs; who didn’t have running water but were grateful to be alive. The little we brought to be a blessing to them they treated as if it was a million dollars. America is a blessed country and we must continue to pray for our leaders.

  11. John, thanks for the post! I believe that thankfulness is a choice and a good habit. For the past couple years I have made it a habit at family devotions to ask each of us what we are thankful for today, or what we liked best about today. I have 3 daughters, 11, 9, and 4 and its amazing what they come up with and it also brings us together as a way to talk about our day. It takes effort some days…. But it’s worth it and hopefully I can instill in them the habit of thankfulness.

  12. I’m thankful for my four children. They all have characteristics which make them unique. I try to spend some alone time with each one and they are awesome to be around. I’m thankful that each one has asked God to save them by following Christ. I’m thankful for a wife that has put up with me, given me these wonderful kids, and has helped me raise them. I’m thankful that 5 years ago a family who had just lost their son choose to allow his heart to be placed in the chest of our youngest child Reagan. I could go on and on, God has blessed me with so much.

  13. Every day I give thanks for a home to live in, a healthy family to share it, a job, though sometimes very frustrating, that provides for them. I live without fear of my government or of oppression from others. All this not to mention the luxury of having hobbies such as bicycles and my wood shop.

  14. Last Sunday was the 13th anniversary of my father’s death. I went out and spent some time with him at the cemetery and it always refreshes me to think of all the wisdom I got from my father – most of it in the last 13 years since he left us. I know it’s cliche but it’s true – “you don’t know what you’ve got until it’s gone.”

    I am extremely thankful for the rest of my family that I still get to enjoy every day and the friends, co-workers, neighbors and acquaintances that I interact with in real life and on line. If you really focus on what’s important, it’s less about “what” is important and more on “who” is important.

    1. Sean, touching. Thanks. Yep, lost my dad in 2002 and he had shared wisdom. And, because of that he’s mentioned in each and every one of my books! Coach and Pastor Jimmy Miller! Thanks!

  15. It’s amazing how much we take for granted. I know there’s plenty on my end.

    Reading this made me thankful for clean water to drink, a warm house to stay in, my wife, a job I get to go to, and so much more.

  16. Like many before, I am grateful for my family, my home, and the knowledge that someone greater than me is looking out for me but on a more personal level the fact that I have two hands that I can use on a daily basis to help save or improve people’s lives (I am an OR nurse), that I can give of myself whether it is skills, knowledge, or just a comforting hand during the worst day of some people’s lives for that I am grateful.

  17. One year ago, I watched my Mom’s health deteriorate quickly and ultimately ending in her death on Feb 29. As I was sitting here, feeling sorry for myself and reliving these very painful days, it was brought to my attention (by the most amazing Men of God) that I had begun to step away from God’s Word allowing other things to penetrate my mind. In spite of myself, I realize that I am truly grateful for my 51 years with this beautiful woman and that she, my best friend, is now at peace with our Lord and Savior! I am grateful for the Men of God that God has placed in my path to help guide me to this point and guide me away from depression and negativity and sadness.

  18. I am thankful for so many things! My husband, family, home, vacations, life, etc. I am also thankful to the animal rescue shelters. We adopted our first dog, Boss, shortly after moving into a new house. Never having had children, he was the love of our life for over 14 years. We lost him just over a year ago and were devastated. A friend recommended we consider adopting another and though my husband took some coaxing, we adopted our beloved Samson. He was a stray that had been in a shelter down south and was to be euthanized. A local shelter in Massachusetts run purely on donations and volunteer efforts rescued him and several others. Samson has made our lives whole again and we are so thankful for the shelter and to those who volunteer their time and donations!

  19. I’m thankful for God, my Family, Friends, good health and all of the opportunities that I have been blessed with and the ability to enjoy throughout my life!

  20. I was just at the grocery store last night getting a few items and literally could not find trhe peanut butter. I was so frustrated walking the same aisles several times. I literally thought there is TOO MUCH stuff in here and it’s the stores fault for having so much on so many disjointed aisles. I almost complained to the store manager but finally found the peanut butter. SHAME ON ME

    1. I did realize the error of my thinking in the moment but your article is so timely. I appreciate you helping me call myself out on such ridiculous thinking. I can’t believe I was so inward, selfishly focused instead of being grateful for ALL the blessings I have….but at least I relearned this lesson over 2 jars of crunchy peanut butter and not after a tradgedy or some other life altering event.

  21. I am thankful for my children and family. After having lost my then 13 year old son 2 1/2 years ago to a terrible battle with cancer, I am so thankful for the other children in my life. Seeing a child endure that terrible disease or any is something no parent should see and no child should endure. I am thankful for my faith that reminds me I will see my precious son again some day, when it’s my time and when I do he will be healthy, happy and whole again. Kids remind you to SMILE and take time to smell the roses, love unconditionally and laugh uncontrollably. In loving memory of Sergio- SMILIN’ in our Hearts and in honor of his amzing sister McKenzey!

  22. Wow….Where does one start? I am grateful for my faith, my family, my work, my friends, clean water, freedom to choose which cereal I want, and the means to make the choice. I am grateful that I get to choose my attitude. I am grateful that I get to choose my responses to so many of life’s daily struggles. I am grateful for the ability to read (having just had a couple of eye surgeries). I am grateful for the eye surgeons who do what they do!……I could go on and on…..Thanks John….Makes one think a bit, doesn’t it?

  23. I almost lost my 14 year old healthy teenage son 4 years ago, he was diagnosed with a very aggressive case of Guilliane Barre/Miller Fisher syndrome and within 12 hours was on life support and we were told to get the family to the hospital. Thanks to thousands and thousands of people praying, and to prayer chains he overcame all odds and is with us today-I am forever grateful for the intervention both medical and spiritual that saved his life. He was completely paralysed, and no vital signs, on full life support not expected to make it through the night. Now he is taking driving lessons, graduated high school, unbelievable how blessed my family is.

  24. This is a great habit to practice.
    Every time I’m in pain or ill I think of all the times that I was well and how I took it for granted. It’s time to reverse that thinking every once in a while and be thankful for our health…when we have it!
    Think how many times that poor guy will think back to when he had his fingers. Hopefully he will be thankful he didn’t lose his hand.

  25. I am grateful for a cardiologist who installed a pacemaker in my husband two weeks ago when we discovered his heart was pausing 6 to 8 seconds without a beat. We read you could die when you have a pause of 6 seconds. We feel very blessed.

  26. John — thanks for the reminder about being grateful for what we have in the here and now. I try and write in my journal daily and some of things I make sure to write down are the things I am grateful for that happened that day. Helps to keep me grounded and focused on God instead of me. So what am I grateful for today? Completing my second half-marathon yesterday, having the money to pay for this vacation, for my friends and family who cheered me on Facebook, for being alive today to do what God put me here to do — even when I don’t always know the next step in front of me is going to take me, the trust and faith I have in God and to publicly worship.

  27. Hey John, great post (no pun intended). I have also traveled to a developing country to work and am amazed at what coming home is like. We have more choices than anyone I have ever met. What I keep in mind each morning is water. Each morning when I get ready for the day I take a moment and am amazed that I have access to safe, clean water and I can have it any time I want, either hot or cold. It is a humbling way to start the day and a way to start the day being grateful for what we have.
    My work in Uganda lead me to help create A Women’s Microfiance Program ( check us out at to give rural women a hand up out of poverty. I am a credit expert to the Board of directors.

    My believe is that if we all do a little something we can change the world.

    Stay well.

  28. I feel so lucky to teach pre-school children–they give me plenty of reasons to get up and do my best every day, even if other things in my life are scary and rocky. They are honest, and so refreshingly real! I know I can make a positive impact on their lives–and they surely make a positive impact on mine!

  29. I am thankful that when you pray “God’s will, God’s time and God’s way”, you get all three. My husband of almost 30 years has been on liver transplant lists for almost 5 years. It seems that he may be in line for a transplant in May or June of this year! God has given us the strength to go through this period with positive attitudes, and the grace to know that He is with us and is in control. I am also thankful for the blessing of family, friends and a church family who have supported us in all things. Praise God from Whom all blessings flow!! Thanks for this post, John, and the reminder for us to count our blessings and give thanks!!

  30. Thanks, John. I’m grateful for you and QBQ! Seriously, you stole my line — It is my intention this year to do my best to instill an attitude of gratitude in my staff. I start each day silently expressing my gratitude and appreciation for all I have. I then go to work and interact with some people who don’t seem to have that same attitude and who find fault and frustration in many things — mostly things that they want and don’t have or things that other people have and they don’t. My personal mission is to leave this world a better place than I found it and to be a role model for others. I believe that if I keep plugging away expressing my gratitude and appreciation that some of it just has to rub off on others! I like Jim’s Gratitude Stones and might just give them a try!

  31. Today I am thankful for your generosity and willingness to share your inner thoughts.
    I am thankful that I have the opportunity to choose from among many job offers. I have the opportunity to READ through everything, and practically instantaneously look up information on the internet. I have the opportunity to choose to help others, while at the same time, making sure my basic needs are met.

  32. I’m thankful for the people around who are not afraid to tell the truth in my face. Who stands by me patiently for the time taken to face the truth…. Because of them for the past years, I’m became a better person than I am 3 years, 6 years, even 12 years ago……
    For this, I’m thankful……
    Because of this, I’m thankful for all the obtacles I might have to face now & in future, cos with all these people at sides, reminding me & “shoving” me to face up, I will become a better person 3 years later…….
    Appreciate all things in life, as all these happens for a reason, whether we know it or not.

  33. John,

    I’m thankful for my family. I can barely remember what life was like before I was married and before we adopted our son Jack. Nothing really mattered before then. Now, our memories really mean something – our wedding day, Jack’s birth, his baptism, his first day of school and list goes on. I’m thankful for them and what they bring into my life each day.

    Keep up the great work!

  34. John what a great habit to start.
    I’m thankful for Mondays because I have a calling I enjoy. I’m thankful for having my wife as a my best friend and who is someone that makes me a better man/father/husband. I’m thankful I have a church that cares for my family. Most of all I’m thankful for His Good Providence!

  35. I am guessing this is the Girls on the Run program. An excellent organizations that needs mentors and volunteers to run the 5K with the girls. I am planning to do this next June.

  36. I’m thankful for all that God has blessed me with – a wonderful wife, two beautiful girls, and enough resources to care for them.

  37. I am filled with gratitude for stumbling upon your lovely blog and reading it for the first time almost a year after it was written. How often we take for granted the blessings all around us. This Christmas I am thankful for the abundance of a very large family. I mean Mother, children, spouses, nieces, nephews, grandnieces and grandnephews, and, most precious grandchildren. We all LIKE each other and LOVE being together. that’s huge. I realize that we are very blessed in our exponential growth. I am also grateful to be an American and grateful for our American troops.
    I loved the concept of putting a small piece of glass pebble in your pocket and counting a blessing each time you saw it, which was posted by one of your readers.
    Thank you for this blog. It really was a blessing. Bless you.

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