President Abraham Lincoln is credited for saying, “Most people are about as happy as they make up their minds to be.”

True in fact, I believe, so one could easily change the context of the saying, ‘Most people are about as grateful as they make up their minds to be.’ I honestly believe gratitude is the ability to experience life as a gift.

Today is one of those Pacific Northwest days you won’t see on a tourist postcard. It’s 35 degrees here at our homestead, raining, soggy, and wet. Wind a slight 6mph.

Not the kind of day for this old paraplegic to be out on my wheelchair looking for some kind of trouble to get into. Yet here I am happy as a tickled baby, filled with gratitude, sitting in a beautiful dry and warm home with good food to eat (some not so healthy, but I like it anyhow) a loving woman by my side and three loving and playful puppies. Very far and wide from what so many are experiencing these days. Just drive through any metropolitan area and you’ll readily witness far too much homelessness, drug addiction, mental illness and human suffering.

But you don’t have to be homeless to be miserable and you don’t need a warm dry loving home to be grateful. Gratitude has a lot to do with the way we think. Yes, our thinking can make life wonderful or with little effort, downright miserable.

Next month, December 2023, it will be 59 years since I graduated from Marine Corps Boot Camp (1964). I was a 17 year old Private (E-1) making $19.40 per week, $36.00 every two weeks, $77.00 per month. Everything I owned fit into my Sea Bag. Of course, it’s all relative when it comes to time value of money. Yes, back then I had no expenses and always had a few dollars in my pocket. Uncle Sam provided me with practically everything, health care, three hot meals a day, a warm dry cot in an open squad bay barracks with 24 other Marines, and work to do at any time and all the time 24/7, 365 day a year. With those kind benefits and pay you’d think everyone would have wanted to join the military, LMAO!!!

But you may find this hard to believe, I loved being a Marine. Not every minute of it, but each day at 0500 when the bugle would sound Reveille, I’d eagerly jump out of my rack (bed for you civilians), grab my shaving kit and towel, shower, shit and shave, and then get dressed. All the time smiling, because life was exciting, it was fun, but it was also very hard.

The Marine Corps is not known for coddling its Marines. Sleeping outside under any weather condition, hiking until your feet bled and muscles ached, not knowing how far we had to go before getting a rest. Pushing through pain that you’d think would never end. And when it was finished for the day, we ate food from cans that were packed during WWII.

I look back now and think, damn, I miss those days. And I do, yes indeed.

Yesterday I sat in my 1,700 sq ft pole barn and looked around at all of the equipment, tools and stuff we have stored and covered in that space. Damn, we have a shit load of stuff. Then I went into our 2,850 sq ft log home to make an afternoon cup of coffee. Good Lord Almighty, another shit load of stuff. Am I complaining? Oh no, on the contrary, overwhelmed with gratitude. And after a few sips of that good tasting hot coffee my thoughts went back to my Sea Bag. I could carry everything I owned on my back 59 years ago. There is something good to be said about that kind of freedom.

Well, let’s end this little “Happy Harry” story by just repeating, gratitude is the ability to experience life as a gift. Every morning when my three pups wake me up, I thank God for the gift of life. The day is mine to do with it and think about it as I may. That freedom is very precious’ indeed. To those that have taken the time to read this, I pray gratitude is a gift of your life, and that your life is as wonderful as it can be, according to your thinking.

Oh, one more tiny bit, the rain just turned to snow, LOL