Saturday, November 22, 2014

The best attitude towards gratitude? Be thankful for what you don't have

Gratitude is an attitude and the week of Thanksgiving always serves as a reminder for us to be thankful. Watching an episode of “Extreme Couponers Black Friday Edition,” last night reminded me however, that most of us are still never satisfied with all that we have. On this reality show I watched as women who were, most likely counting their blessings the day before, stood in line shoulder to shoulder at big box retailers counting their money to shell out on things. Some were shopping for needy families which is a wonderful idea but others simply couldn’t pass up buying $100 worth of leggings and crock pots so they could get a free coin purse (true story). So what exactly are we thankful for? How does gratitude shape our attitude? I’ve had an exceptional year as I know many of my friends have filled with loss and gain, tears and adventures and I have to say when it comes down to it everything that happened to me this year happened for me.

I’m grateful for pain as a teacher. Without tears I wouldn’t know what it means to smile. I’m grateful for the loss of friends. People I would have never evicted from my life if the universe hadn’t shifted for me. I’m grateful for losing my house in the decision to sell it so I could know what having a home truly means. I’m thankful I can look back on my old house with fondness and even drive by there now and again when I feel nostalgic. I’m grateful for coming close to losing my job so that I can assess if flying is truly what I want to do or it’s just a bookmark before the next chapter. I’m thankful for when my daughter is sick so I can appreciate having a healthy child 99% of the time. I’m grateful for the cracks that show up in my marriage and getting a tiny peek into what life would be life without my husband. I’m thankful for the fights I have with my family because at least I have a family I can communicate with even if we don’t always agree. The scratches in my furniture and hair on the floor remind me how thankful I am for my pets even if I KNOW they love me more than I could ever love them.

I’m grateful for my friends who have become mothers themselves this year for the first or second time. I am happy to see their love grow as much as I am the dark circles under their sleepless eyes. I’m grateful they have the opportunity to have stretch marks and baby weight and months of abstaining from alcohol to breast feed because being a mother is a job the universe doesn’t grant everyone. I’m grateful for my friends who have gone through sickness this year so they can know what it’s like to be surrounded by love and support. I’m thankful for them to find their strength in a dark time in their lives and a voice for the illnesses they battle. When you know someone who has a parent, child or is fighting themselves it puts life in perspective on what truly matters in this world. I’m grateful for my friends who don’t keep in touch because it reminds me communication works both ways and I need to put in more effort.

I could say I’m grateful for my own health and all the things I have but in truth it’s the times I’ve gone without that have truly made me thankful. A sore throat gives me gratitude for the days I’m well and a bank account that’s lacking reminds me to enjoy the times I can buy a coffee without checking my balance first. Gratitude to me isn’t an attitude of relishing in my abundance it’s about the attitude I have when the universe smacks me down. How I get up from a fall teaches me more of a lesson than being untouchable on top. We can all be grateful for what we have…it’s harder to be thankful for what we do not.

So thank you pain for being a teacher. For the tears and the sorrow this year. Thank you work for making me fly on weekends so I know what it is to enjoy my family time. Thank you Charlotte for being difficult some days so I can look at you when you’re finally asleep with appreciation. Thank you opportunities that were never handed to me so I could make my own. My attitude has greatly shifted this year from one of entitlement to one of working hard to have what I need in love, jobs, yoga, friendships and family. It’s good to have nothing, to start over. To borrow from Brue Lee, ““Emptiness is the starting point. — In order to taste my cup of water you must first empty your cup. My friend, drop all your preconceived and fixed ideas and be neutral. Do you know why this cup is useful? Because it is empty.”

Drop everything. Let life fill you up. Be grateful for an empty cup and see what life puts in there for you…and when it gets full? Dump it out and start over.

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