But how can I be grateful when…?

Photo by Luis Alfonso Orellana on Unsplash

I used to think being grateful was, well, sappy. For example, I’m a 12 Stepper and around the year-end holidays many of our meetings have a subject of ‘gratitude.’ Early on I hated them.

It wasn’t that I wasn’t grateful — sort of. I was, about my life, my recovery, my kids… etc. It just felt all wrong somehow to admit that in a public or semi-public forum. Besides, I also had things in my life I wasn’t one bit grateful for. With no real idea how to sort through my conflicts around gratitude I worked to ignore the whole subject.

Then I ran into one of my most brilliant spiritual teachers, Rev. Guy Williams. He taught about gratitude a lot, and my attitude slowly changed. One of his suggestions was to name 100 or so things I was grateful for every day. That practice taught me to be grateful for the many little things in my life.

In another class Rev. Guy said rather firmly, “Learn to be grateful for everything — and if you can’t be grateful about something stand there until you can be!”

“How can I possibly be grateful for my migraine headaches,” I wailed more out loud than I’d intended.

“You can if you’re willing,” he assured me and went on about something else I missed entirely. I mentally argued with him, pretty well convinced even thinking about being grateful for migraines was not only impossible, but not worth my time. Of course, I couldn’t let go of the thought and gradually my justifications for why gratitude was totally out of the question began to change to wondering if I might be wrong.

One day I got it. I was mulling over how I might be grateful for the migraines that had been disabling a couple of times a month for most of my teenage and adult life. Suddenly it came to me, strongly enough so I stopped my walk right there on the sidewalk and thought about how many regular jobs I’d avoided because managers couldn’t or wouldn’t put up with the number of days I needed to stay home in bed. My migraines had totally supported my freelance writing career, helping me skip who knows how many cubicles under florescent lights!

Talk about gratitude! Even though these days I rarely suffer migraines — another story I’ll tell someday — migraines often top my gratitude list. And BTW, I no longer feel sappy when I or someone else talks about gratitude.

Live well and with joy,

Writer, life and writing coach, book ghostwriter, Grandmother, Buddhist. Liberal who listens to the other side, political activist-www.DemocracyCounts.org

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