Attitude of Gratitude

Philip Wilkerson | 3 minute read

Attitude of Gratitude

Philip Wilkerson | 3 minute read

I often ask myself, “how do I stay aware of the social issues that black men face without getting jaded or cynical about the world we live in?”. One of the ways I address that question is maintaining an “attitude of gratitude” while actively engaging in the fight against systemic racism and injustice.

In my studies of well-being and happiness, one false notion I’ve come across is that happy or joyous people are not aware. I would like to challenge that thinking. We can be “happy,” “at peace,” or “centered” while also knowing that the world needs a lot of fixing.  As marginalized and disenfranchised people, it is hard to find things to be grateful for. However, the mindset of gratitude allows us to look at the world through a positive lens. Looking, purposefully, for aspects in our lives that are blessings, and contributors to our joy, reinforces calls for social justice. Through that lens, we can see how things we may take for granted are not always afforded our brothers and sisters across the globe.

Every morning, one of the ways I infuse an “attitude of gratitude” is writing down things I am grateful for. For example, even though I am going through a hard time as a black man in America, I am grateful that I can raise my voice to fight injustices. I am grateful for the ally-ship of not only my fellow Black people in the struggle, but also for anyone who feels that this unjust system needs to be changed. With an “attitude of gratitude,” I can still do the work necessary for change while finding something to be grateful for. Looking for places to be grateful doesn’t have to rely on seeing the grand picture. Rather, it can be just staying thankful for the small things we experience every day. Be grateful that you wake up each morning. Find gratitude in having a healthy family, as I do, during the COVID19 crisis. Be grateful for being able to reach out to your people simply because you have the resources needed to communicate while sheltering in place.

I charge you, even as you advocate for social justice, to remain optimistic. I charge you to believe that the work you are doing is making the world a better place. I charge you to look through a lens of hope and gratitude at those who are supporting you, not through a lens of fear and despair at those who are bringing obstacles your way.  I charge you to look at your own life as a blessing. Realize that the work you are doing is important.  Stay hopeful. You deserve happiness and joy even while fighting for change!

Don’t let this world jade you. Its negativity can be overcome with an attitude of gratitude.  

About the Author

Philip Wilkerson works at George Mason University as an Industry Advisor for Media, Arts, and Design. He resides in Burke, Virginia. He is married to his high school sweetheart and father to two boys. He also hosts a podcast called Positive Philter which focuses on positivity and well-being in everyday life.


  1. LeVar Crooms

    Very well put, Phil.

    • Nancy Xiong

      Such a refreshing post. Most often we are so into the weeds that we forget to enjoy the beautiful surroundings and be thankful for the air around us. Thank you my friend.

  2. Joan Fox

    I am grateful for you every day, Philip. Very well written…I love your photo. You look so handsome!

  3. Julian

    Great article!


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