By Sharon Frankenberg,
Attorney at Law

“Let us be grateful to the people who make us happy; they are the charming gardeners who make our souls blossom.”  — Marcel Proust

I do not usually make a habit of quoting dead Frenchman in this column but please bear with me while I shake things up a bit this week.  Proust is quite right about blossoming souls.  I am grateful for a close family that makes me happy.  In particular, I have an extraordinary nonagenarian grandmother.  We talk on the phone several times every week.  Her perspective on history is always interesting to me.  We can talk politics for hours.  She is smart and funny.  She gives wonderful advice based upon her ninety plus years of life experience.  She listens to stories of my daily adventures.  I believe we make each other happy.

I also have lots of wonderful friends who add so much to my life.  A friend who only has to look at me with that mischievous twinkle in her eye and we burst into giggles.  Another talented friend who never minds getting on tall ladders or fixing mechanical things if it will help me.  Smart lawyer friends who love to discuss litigation strategies with me on hypothetical cases.  A friend who remembers to bring extra tissues to the movies because I always cry at the sad parts.  A friend who will take long walks with me in all kinds of weather.  For all of my friends, I am so grateful.

According to “A Practical Guide to Gratitude” at,  here are 9 ways to cultivate gratitude: 1. Notice your day-to-day world from a point of gratitude and be amazed at all the goodness we take for granted.  2. Keep a gratitude journal.  All it requires is noting one or more things you are grateful for on a daily basis.  3. If you identify something or someone with a negative trait…switch it in your mind to a positive trait.  4. Gratitude requires humility, which the dictionary defines as “modest and respectful.” Explore where this fits in your life.  5. Give at least one compliment daily.  It can be to a person or it can be asking someone to share your appreciation of something else.  6. When you find yourself in a bad situation ask:  What can I learn? When I look back on this, without emotion, what will I be grateful for?  7. Vow not to complain, criticize, or gossip for 10 days.  Notice the amount of energy you were spending on negative thoughts and actions.  8. Sound genuinely happy to hear from the people who call you on the phone.  9.  Become involved in a cause that is important to you. Donate money or time or talent.

My resolution for this coming year is to become even more aware of the blessings in my life.  I am going to keep a gratitude journal.  It is a habit that I will be happy to form.  As Proust said, “The time at our disposal each day is elastic; the passions we feel dilate it, those that inspire us shrink it, and habit fills it.”  Happy New Year and best of luck on your resolutions.

You should always contact an attorney to get advice and assistance with your unique situation.  Sharon Frankenberg is an experienced attorney licensed in Tennessee since 1988.  She is a sole practitioner who handles probate, foreclosures, landlord-tenant, collections and general civil matters.  She represents Social Security disability claimants and represents creditors in bankruptcy proceedings. Her office is in Knoxville and she may be reached at (865)539-2100.