Patricia Holbrook

Sometimes gratitude is a matter of changing perspective

“For several minutes, we both sat silently watching the gulls soar overhead, listening to the surf break on the beach. Then Jones began to gather the empty cans and place them in the plastic bag. Standing, he extended his hand and helped me to my feet. ‘Incidentally,’ he said with a smile, ‘you ate sardines and Vienna sausages in the sand. I dined on surf and turf with an ocean view.’ He slapped me on the back. ‘It’s all about perspective.’”

The text above is an excerpt from one of the most impactful books I’ve ever read: “The Noticer” by best-selling author and corporate speaker Andy Andrews.

The main character in the novel, Jones (the Noticer), is based on a man Andrews met when he was a homeless 23-year-old, living under a pier on Alabama’s Gulf Coast. His real name was indeed Jones and he really called himself a Noticer. According to Andrews, Jones is one of the main reasons he no longer sleeps under a pier.

The Noticer’s objective throughout the book is to show everyone he encounters how gratitude is a matter of perspective. Filled with stories of people who had lost hope and found themselves stuck in self-deprecating, destructive behaviors, this part-fiction, part-memoir masterpiece has become one of my favorite gift items for loved ones and friends.

The above passage in particular, plays in my mind every time I find my emotions stuck in the dooming thought patterns that difficult circumstances can bring.

As part of his homeless dinner, Andrews shared canned tuna and sausages with Jones while sitting on the beach sand. While Andrews saw it as a poor man’s meal, the Noticer delighted himself by choosing to see the meal as a feast fit for a king, simply by focusing on the beauty of the environment and gratitude for God’s provision.

The Noticer was determined to live a life of thanksgiving, regardless of his circumstances, and he made it his mission to help people see the hidden blessings in life’s hard spots.

I believe this mindset is crucial for an abundant, victorious life.

Andy Andrews is not alone in the list of successful people who learned to press on through seemingly forsaken circumstances by maintaining a positive outlook in life, while often leaning on God for strength and hope.

History is filled with amazing characters, who came out of the poorest, most difficult environments, only to rise to stardom, wealth and influence.

The bible itself is filled with misfits, weak and failing men and women, who were successful in their calling, and eventually became giants of faith. They did so because they chose not to focus on their weaknesses and hardships, but rather, believed that God’s omnipotent hand was in their trials, molding and strengthening them for a purpose. Their faith acted as a key to unleash Heaven’s bountiful blessings, and I am convinced that the only reason they received them is because they chose to look at their circumstances through God’s viewpoint.

When asked to list the things that make us grateful this Thanksgiving season, our natural tendency is to name only the seemingly good things in our lives.

But what if we choose to become Noticers, thus changing our perspective in every single circumstance we are facing, even the hardest? What if we choose to see a “surf and turf meal with an ocean view” even when all we have is canned tuna and sausage, while sitting in the sand? Could it be that noticing the blessings and thanking God in the hardest situations is the key to change our future?

Support real journalism. Support local journalism. Subscribe to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution today. See offers.

Your subscription to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution funds in-depth reporting and investigations that keep you informed. Thank you for supporting real journalism.

Patricia Holbrook is a Christian author, blogger and international speaker. Her book, “Twelve Inches,” is on sale at Barnes & Nobles, Amazon and retailers worldwide. Visit her website For speaking engagements and comments, email