Unless you’re a turkey, Thanksgiving is a day for being grateful. But if “beauty is in the eye of the beholder,” it also applies to the plus or minus way we view our lives.

An hour ago I escaped from the phone after being deluged with complaints by a distant cousin (a cousin I’ve kept distant!). She spent her cell phone data listing all the things in her life that she feels victimized by. Her list only partially includes an ungrateful child, an equally misbehaving stock market, a TV technician who failed to show up on time, a supermarket that sold her overripe bananas, plus all the afflictions of age (arthritic knee, wobbly walking, ad infinitum.) I’m sure her list also includes me for not being sympathetic enough.

The reality is that each of us could have a negative list. It depends on how negative you want to be.

I don’t mean to sound like Pollyanna, the saccharine heroine of children’s books, who is famed for having “irrepressible optimism.” Forced to read her as a child, I developed a loathing for that sugary attitude. So I went the opposite way, until what was “irrepressible” in myself was a tendency to see the half-empty cup. I turned everything into verification of victimhood.

So I decided to deliberately reframe every bad karma into something at least a little positive. In the past three or so years I’ve had plenty of ill fortune to complain about, primarily my partner’s becoming so debilitated he’s in a nursing home. Hard to find anything positive in that. But what if I appreciate the times I visit him and am able to bring a smile to his face, to help him understand he’s still loved? And what about being grateful I’m well enough to walk out of that building!

I’m in a lonely profession- writing – and being alone so much encourages dark periods of self-pity. So I have now adopted a habit I’d heard about but scoffed at: making a daily gratitude list. Each night before going to bed I remind myself of at least 10 things to be grateful for that happened that day, even what seem like very small things. Sometimes I have to stretch to meet the ten. (A friend who had a “disastrous” day said she was thankful that at least she’d had a “good breakfast”!)

Here’s my own partial list from last night:
I’m grateful I got through today without falling.
I’m grateful that although agents are ignoring me I’m able to keep working on my new book.
I’m grateful for two phone calls from supportive friends.
I’m grateful I found another cartridge in the desk.
And – yes! – grateful I, too, had a good breakfast!

I also add thanks for blessings that aren’t limited to this one day, but that I need to remind myself of.
I’m grateful that my mind still works (after seeing the wreckage of so many minds in the nursing home).
Grateful for my good memory – so that the wonderful times aren’t lost.
Grateful I can see and hear – no small blessings.
Grateful I can walk (okay, hobble) despite my injured knee.
Grateful I can talk, whether or not anyone’s listening.
Grateful I can still laugh!

It’s interesting how powerful these expressions of appreciation can be, for both the sour and the sweet are infectious. The choice is ours.

BOOKS: Widow’s Walk–; Turning Toward Tomorrow –; Role Play and Ten Women of Valor – and Amazon Kindle.