On opening day of Driver’s Ed class, Father Lund (a teacher, not a priest, and I have no idea where the name came from), explained to us that “Happiness is a buttercup.” He said that anything that makes you happy is simply that beautiful little yellow flower, period. “So our Driver’s License is a buttercup?” we asked, to which he yelled a resounding YES!

Father Lund clearly taught our anxious group of teenagers much more than how to drive that day. He opened our young eyes to the virtue of gratitude. From that day on, you would catch kids at Juanita High School saying things like, “Yea, my new beat up old clunker is one awesome buttercup, because it’s all mine!” It became a priceless little gem that I have carried with me all my life. Of course, chocolate is the biggest buttercup for me!

The virtue of Gratitude has been defined as the quality or feeling of being grateful or thankful. Examples include being grateful to wake up to a glorious sunny morning, a smile from a stranger, the holding of a door for you, a thank you, or a warm conversation with a good friend. It can also be relief that a situation turned around, your worries were unnecessary, or a bill came with a credit!

Some other benefits of practicing gratitude, according to Emmons, are:

  • Gratitude puts situations into perspective. When we can see the good as well as the bad, it becomes more difficult to complain and stay stuck.

  • Gratitude helps us realize what we have. This can lessen our need for wanting more all the time.

  • Gratitude strengthens relationships, improves health, reduces stress, and, in general, makes us happier, according to Dr. Emmons


So kick off 2016 by starting a Gratitude Journal that you write in every evening, and end your day with the positive (thanks to Lisa Allen!). It makes a world of difference in how you sleep, and how you create the following day.

Happy New Year… and start hunting for Buttercups!