Thanksgiving presents us with an opportunity to pause and reflect on the blessings we have been given.

To get your personal gratitude juices flowing, check out the gratitude lists which five famous Americans once composed. They demonstrate, as John Adams once said, that despite trials and difficulties in life, “Gratitude is always in one’s Power.” 

“Amidst all the Tryals I have gone through I have much to be grateful for good Parents, an excellent Wife, and promising Children – tolerable Health upon the whole and competent future. Success, almost without Example, in a dangerous dreadful Revolution, and still hopes of better Times.” – John Adams, 1794

“My farm is small; my servants are few, and good; I have a little money at interest; I wish for no more; my employment in my own affairs is easy; and with a contented grateful mind, undisturbed by worldly hopes or fears, relating to myself, I am completing the number of days allotted to me by divine goodness.” – John Dickinson, 1767

“From Mas’r Daniel I got protection from the bigger boys, and from Miss Lucretia I got bread by singing when I was hungry, and sympathy when I was abused by the termagant in the kitchen. For such friendship I was deeply grateful, and bitter as are my recollections of slavery, it is true pleasure to recall any instances of kindness, any sunbeams of humane treatment, which found way to my soul, through the iron grating of my house of bondage. Such beams seem all the brighter from the general darkness into which they penetrate, and the impression they make there is vividly distinct.” – Frederick Douglass, 1882

“In my Travels and since my Settlement I have received much Kindness from Men, to whom I shall never have any Opportunity of making the least direct Return. And numberless Mercies from God, who is infinitely above being benefited by our Services. These Kindnesses from Men I can therefore only return on their Fellow-Men; and I can only show my Gratitude for those Mercies from God, by a Readiness to help his other Children and my Brethren. For I do not think that Thanks, and Compliments, tho’ repeated Weekly, can discharge our real Obligations to each other, and much less those to our Creator.” – Benjamin Franklin, 1753

“My friends therefore may believe me sincere in my professions of attachment to them, whilst Providence has a joint claim to my humble and grateful thanks, for its protection and direction of me, through the many difficult and intricate scenes, which this contest hath produced; and for the constant interposition in our behalf, when the clouds were heaviest and seemed ready to burst upon us.” – George Washington, 1778