The Art of Being Thankful

Oft during this time of year, you will hear many people proclaim the things for which they are thankful.

Folks are thankful for family, friends, health, employment, their furry friends, etcetera…

Infrequently, if ever, folks will include some of the more challenging or horrible things that sometimes happen in this life, and I have frequently wondered why that is.

It has caused me to ponder whether these are “treasures” yet undiscovered or whether some simply cannot/do not recognize the value in all of life’s trials and tribulations.

While it is not for me to judge or monitor, I can take this time to extend my gratitude for some pretty crappy things that have happened in my life and maybe that will spark a thankful moment for you…

Who knows?

(Not me. That is for certain!)

What I do know, is that when (if) you can find the value in every experience, things transform into something maybe a little less horrific and awful…and that makes this life a little bit better.

(Less bad is a good thing!)

Here is a bit of my narrative on thankfulness…

I am thankful to anyone who was mean or hurtful to me. These are the people who ultimately taught me how to be a more patient and compassionate person, both to others and to myself.

Abusers, bullies, and meanies force you to see your own inner beauty, strength, and self-worth. They make you think. They make you want to protect those who cannot protect themselves. They, like everyone else, have their place and purpose in this life and theirs may just be to light your inner fire. They also inspire you to look at the less pretty things about yourself and do an inventory of what behaviors need to say and which behaviors need to go. Maybe you’re perfect the way you are, but you won’t know unless you explore it.

I am thankful for thieves and muggers.

These are the people who force you to realize that things are just that…”things”. If a thief or mugger is “kind/generous” enough to leave you with your life, as I have been so fortunate, you get over the initial anger at their greed and dreadfulness as humans. You become grateful that you are able to go home to your loved ones instead of not. I for one am happier to be with an empty pocket than a filled casket.

I am thankful for alcoholism and mental illness.

Without these things, I would have never witnessed this level of struggle, pain, and helplessness….and maybe I would not have the understanding that everyone wrestles their own demons. Without bearing witness to these things, I might have been a colder, more detached person…or possibly spiraled out of control myself. Without these things, I would have been a giant enabler without even realizing it.

I am thankful for abandonment.

Without abandonment, I may never have figured anything out on my own. People have walked out of my life from the time I was a young child and throughout my 41 years. Sometimes it was my fault and sometimes it wasn’t, but had it never happened I may never have explored the concept of “accountability” or possibly would/could have wasted much valuable time either trying to get someone to return or falling apart because they didn’t.

I am thankful for homelessness.

Without completely losing every material item I have ever owned, I may not have developed the serenity that my grandpa spoke of so often to just get my shit together instead of wallowing in a pool of self-pity.

I am thankful that I still have the ability to be hurt by another or feel loss and can still feel great compassion for others.

I am thankful that people can still surprise the hell out of me.

I am thankful that I can still be disappointed…for that means I still possess hope and optimism.

I am thankful that all these experiences afford me constant reality checks for my own self-awareness and development, and additionally provide entertainment or perspective for others when possible.

It is because of all of these things and other “less than desirable” experiences that I can truly appreciate my family, friends, dogs, employment, and life.

My grandpa always tried to get us to buy into the concept of “not worrying”…and it is of course later in life than he would have hoped, that I truly understand.

If you can appreciate all of life’s experiences, you will truly have no worries because you will always know that you are going to be OK.

(And you WILL be OK. Maybe not today, but it will happen…if you get out of your own way.)

If you can change it, change it. If you cannot change it, accept it. Serenity.  No worries. Yes.

The trials of my life have always made the triumphs and joys so much more rewarding, including the loss of my grandpa who wise a wise, wise, WISE man…and for that (and him), I am eternally thankful.

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