Gratitude

Every so often, and often without warning, I get these “take my breath away” moments when the reality of what I have gone through hits me hard. I can’t tell you when they’re coming or what triggers them, but when they do, they jolt me into this overwhelming feeling of astonishment that I actually went through what I did and that I’m actually here to talk about it.
It’s not to say that I’ve made it through grief. Grieving is something that stays with you for life. It’s the realization that despite all of the pain, suffering, challenges, struggles and general mess you have, and will continue to go through, that life keeps moving forward. I think these “jolts” of reality help keep us grounded and focused on what’s really important in life.
None of us chose to be where we are today. The loss of our loved ones was completely out of our control. It’s natural to be angry or sad or depressed over what has happened. It’s natural to not want to have to deal with it and move forward; but if this experience has taught me anything, it is that I must not continue to focus on the things I cannot change, but instead do something good with my circumstances and to show my family what’s really important in life.
I’m sure on a daily basis, you run into people who will complain about everything! All of those little, petty, unimportant things that we ourselves at one time probably also found annoying but now suddenly seem so trivial. I know for me, I have a very hard time with “complainers” especially about the small stuff. I often find myself thinking, “This person has absolutely NO CLUE what it’s really like to have problems”. You’d give anything to be in their shoes, and if you were, you wouldn’t complain, right?
Truth is that until we go through traumatic experiences, we have a tendency to take things for granted. We expect life to go a certain way and when it doesn’t, we complain. It’s not until after we have been shaken to our core that we realize that all of those little things are simply just that – little.
There’s a great website called http://life-with-confidence.com and they linked me to an article called, “How to Be Happy Every Day”. In it the author talks about counting your blessings in life. He says, “The feeling of gratitude creates happiness into your life. Imagine if you had nothing, how happy you’d feel to be given a small thing like a pair of shoes or a bed. Be grateful for the things you have now. As strange as it may seem, the feeling of gratitude has a tendency to attract more good things into your life.” He also stresses the importance of taking time for yourself and that will in turn, do so much good for the important people in your life. He tells us to make a firm decision to be happy. He says, “When it comes right down to it, as Abraham Lincoln once said, ‘a man is about as happy as he makes up his mind to be.’” He further says, “What makes you feel good?…There are many other things which can help too, like opening a window to get fresh air, or getting outside to take a walk…Basically, anything that makes you feel good can increase your happiness…I can tell you that when you set a firm intention to be happy, the world around you tends to change to support your decision.”
I know now for me, the moments of true clarity that come along with these “jolts” I now consider a blessing. I feel as though I have such a deeper appreciation for life and all it has to offer because I have lived through the worst. There is nothing I can do to change what has happened but I can control how I see my circumstances now – for myself, for my children, for my family and for my friends.
“Gratitude is an art of painting an adversity into a lovely picture.” ~Kak Sri

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