Gratitude as a discipline involves a conscious choice. I can choose to be grateful even when my emotions and feelings are steep and hurt and resentful. It is amazing how many occasions present themselves in which I can choose gratitude instead of a complaint. I can choose to be grateful when I am criticized, even when my heart responds in bitterness ... I can choose to listen to the voices that forgive and to look at the faces that smile, even while I still hear words of revenge and see grimaces of hatred.
What does it mean to say that gratitude is a choice? It means that we sharpen our ability to recognize and acknowledge the giftedness of life. It means that we make a conscious decision to see blessings instead of curses. It means that our internal reactions are not determined by external forces.
That gratitude is a conscious does not imply that it is an easy decision. The ability to choose gratitude may not come easily, naturally, or effortlessly. While gratitude is pleasant, it is not easy. We have to work at it. It must be consciously cultivated. Albert Einstein admitted that he needed to remind himself a hundred times a day that his inner and outer life depend on the labors of other men, living and dead, and that "I must exert myself in order to give in the measure as I have received and I am still receiving."
"Let us be grateful to the people who make us happy; they are the charming gardeners who make our souls blossom."
— Marcel Proust
— Ralph Waldo Emerson
— G.K. Chesterton
— A.A. Milne (Winnie-the-Pooh)
— Maya Angelou (Celebrations: Rituals of Peace and Prayer)
— Eckhart Tolle (A New Earth: Awakening to Your Life's Purpose)
— Meister Eckhart