Attitudes and Gratitude

It seems to me that attitude is inextricably linked to gratitude. How we see things and our experiences is pivotal to being grateful – or is it vice versa? At least from time to time, our attitudes aren’t always aligned with what might lead us to strength and gratitude.

How did our ancestors experience their lives and what might we conclude about their attitudes? Were they mindfully grateful on a regular basis? My suspicion is that it may not have been a conscious decision, but their attitudes must have dictated their responses to the exigencies of daily life.

Just think of our immigrant ancestors. Their commitment to emigrating thousands of kilometres away, or even the far side of the world, reveals a strength of attitude that enabled them to establish themselves in a completely different environment and a different social structure.

They often left behind family members including parents in their ancestral places, knowing full well they would never see them again, or had as much chance as we have of winning the lottery. Imagine the positive attitude that made them believe this sacrifice of home and comfort was worth the benefits that would come with time: food, jobs, homes, land, safety from war and Famine. Many, if not most, were illiterate and would have to pay or ask someone else to write to their families “at home”. They may never know when family members died and certainly couldn’t be there when it happened. If we find the current pandemic situation appalling, when families cannot mourn together, just imagine how our ancestors would have felt.

Your living is determined not so much by what life brings to you as by the attitude you bring to life; not so much by what happens to you as by the way your mind looks at what happens. Khalil Gibran, Lebanese poet.


Green, Allan C (1900). [Unidentified barque (sailing ship) in full sail]. Copyright expired.

Previously most of our ancestors lived in an homogenous, familiar social environment where they knew their own community and how they connected. From the minute they boarded their ship, they were largely in an unfamiliar social context. Yes, sometimes there were others whom they knew on board, but equally there were many from different places, either from within their own country or different countries, different languages and different religious observances. Put yourselves in their mental ‘shoes’ for a moment and think just how confusing and confronting that must have been. It’s one thing to do when we choose to travel for pleasure, but completely another to take on as a lifetime experience.

When I think of just these examples, I’m in awe of their positive attitudes and commitments. It seems inevitable that they’d have had down times, but overall, they persisted to make a better life for themselves and their families, a gift they’ve passed down through the generations. Something for which we in turn can value and be grateful.

The key to life is your attitude.…. It’s about making the best of your life wherever you are in life. Candace Bushnell, American author. [i]

[i]

22 thoughts on “Attitudes and Gratitude

  1. i am so grateful for the decision made by all my ancestors between 1840 and 1880 to leave Britain and sail to Australia. It wasn’t easy for any of them and I would say my generation is the first who have had a relatively easy life.


  2. Well put Pauleen. Our ancestors faced wars, droughts, famines, and pandemics, and that has only been over the past 150 years. Probably worse before that. I think of my great grandfather John Zeller who lost three sons in WW1, and made walking sticks for returned wounded soldiers because he was too old to go himself. Then he travelled around speaking to raise money for the country for economic recovery after the war. We’ve had it pretty easy so far!


    1. hi John, yes I agree…this will be our generation’s challenge and hopefully nothing worse. I have always been impressed by how John worked so hard to support the war effort…the tragedy of his loss.


  3. I love this theme. I remember reading the book “Attitude: Your most priceless possession” which made a lasting impression.

    Our ancestors had a wonderful attitude (I hope c is courage).


  4. Thanks for making us think. When faced with poverty and starvation how much did the strong human instinct to survive shape our ancestors attitudes? Was it this ‘do or die’ attitude that influenced the to leave their familiar environments?


  5. My ancestors didn’t go to Australia, but faced many challenges during their lifetimes. I had also thought about their inability to be their family members when they were sick, etc. May we all come out of the other side of this pandemic in alive and whole.


    1. Thanks Kristin. I think your ancestors had it way tougher in most respects. We have so very much to be grateful for. I’m also wishing you and yours safety through this pandemic.


  6. Hello Pauleen. I hope you are doing well and keeping safe in these troubled times. I have posted a couple of times in the last few years on the blog in relation to Daniel Moloney and Bartholomew Moloney. All my posts show up as under moderation still. I wonder whether you actually received them? Best wishes, James Moloney

    Sent from Mail for Windows 10


  7. A very thought provoking post, that brought in more focus the life of my great grandmother who faced the loss of two babies, the early death of her husband, when their seven children were still living at home, the death of her eldest son a year later , and two sons killed in the First World War. Like many other of our ancestors, she needed huge reserves of resilience.


  8. I have a few ancestors whose husbands died young and left them to raise young kids and did what they could to make that happen, whether it be running the farm or taking in washing or being a dressmaker. That can-do attitude was passed down to me, I always tell myself….”This is the way it is, may as well make it an adventure and do what I have to do.”
    *Blogging A to Z


  9. A very thought-provoking post. I was reminded of my great grandmother who was widowed early, leaving her with seven children still at home; her eldest son died a year later; she lost two babies in infancy and two sons died in the First World War. She displayed great resistance to continue as the family matriarch though all those tragedies.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.