How many times can you blog about the life-changing power of living life with an attitude of gratitude and still have it be fresh, original? More than 1,500 times in the last dozen years for blogger and author Kevin Carroll, a San Francisco native whose life changed after he attended a weekend retreat on gratitude at the Jesuit Retreat Center in Los Altos in November 2006.
In 2017, after the urging of his blog readers, Carroll published his first book, “A Moment’s Pause for Gratitude,” a compilation of 50 of his blogs about the people, places, experiences, opportunities and gifts that have blessed his life.
Reflecting his Jesuit, Catholic upbringing, he believes that “many of the gifts we enjoy come to us from a higher power, as opposed to being the result of our own initiative.” For Carroll, that higher power is “a loving and compassionate God.”
“The goal of my book is to encourage readers to live their lives with an attitude of gratitude — to more consistently and conscientiously acknowledge those people and things for which they should be grateful, and to more readily express that gratitude,” said Carroll, a San Jose resident.
Each of the book’s reflections on life and gratitude open with a relevant quote and closes with questions to stimulate self-reflection or group discussion. Chapter titles vary from “It’s Time” and “The Gift of Education” to “The Shadow of Grief” and “Just Let It Go.”
“Gratitude is a very ecumenical concept. For this reason, I included quotes in the book from leaders and writers from other religions and cultures,” said Carroll, whose Catholic faith undergirds his life and writing.
Carroll understands gratitude to be a universal experience with physical and emotional advantages that can improve one’s life, including his own as he learned to experience each day through the lens of gratitude.
“I have been significantly more relaxed, less stressed and able to just accept life as it unfolds. I am much more proactive about spending time with family and friends and expressing my gratefulness to them,” said Carroll, who retired in 2015 after teaching at St. Lawrence Academy, Santa Clara, for 31 years. “I can honestly say that my life has improved tremendously.”
He was pleased to learn from a reader that his book has been helpful to people in Alcoholics Anonymous, where having an attitude of gratitude is a key to success in addiction recovery.
“It’s one thing to feel grateful,” said Carroll in a January 2018 interview for the Markkula Center for Applied Ethics at Santa Clara University, where he earned an undergraduate degree in English before getting his MA Degree at the University of San Francisco. “But that’s not enough. We have to take it to that next level and express that gratitude.”
“Feeling gratitude and not expressing it is like wrapping a gift and not giving it,” said Carroll, quoting inspirational writer William Arthur Ward.
Carroll has three suggestions for expressing gratitude: The first thing in the morning (or the last at night), pause and reflect on one’s blessings and express gratitude for them; keep a gratitude journal; and send hand-written thank you notes.
He said that he asks God to help him find a way to make a positive difference for someone at the beginning of each day and that “the power of a hand-written thank you note should never be underestimated.”
“‘A Moment’s Pause for Gratitude’… serves as an antidote to negativity and an aide for the peaceful mind,” wrote author Roland Merullo. “I expect it will be as helpful to other readers as it has been for me, and I’m grateful to [Carroll] for putting it into this world.”
Visit Carroll’s website at www.kmcsjc.wixsite.com/gratitude. He is eager to speak to community groups and share what he calls his “passion for gratitude.” His second book, “Focus on Gratitude,” is targeted for publication in 2019. Read Carroll’s blogs at www.attitudeofgratitude.typepad.com.