What are you grateful for?
Often my answer is something like my family, my health, etc. And, I do believe we should be thankful for those things. However, it is easy to have gratitude for your blessings. It’s easy to be grateful for all the good things, the good people, and the good fortune that is present in your life.
But what if we decided to have gratitude for everything in our lives? What if we decided to have gratitude when it wasn’t easy?
Let’s think about it this way. Everything that is present in your life is here because of everything that has happened before this moment. You are a collection of every experience, positive and negative, that has crossed your path to this point. And even the positive or negative perception of those situations IS what shapes and forms your ethos. Why do some people handle, seemingly negative situations, like death and dying, more effectively than others? Why do some people succeed and thrive in the face of traumatic scenarios and others don’t? I think there are likely a myriad of reasons behind that.
I think Cavewoman would have had no other choice. Continue on, or die. When the stakes are that high, you either do one or the other. There was no time or luxury to become withdrawn, depressed, and/or a non functioning member of society. Resiliency was a necessity for her survival. When the options are imminent death or getting on with it, I think our survival instincts likely took over, or we perished…which, I surmise, happened too.
So, what does gratitude have to do with any of it? Well, fear and gratitude cannot occupy the same place for starters. It just can’t. So, whatever the scenario, if you can find the gratitude you can often find the silver lining, the positive side, or the meaning of why these things happen and expel a state of fear.
Example: during a recent gratitude exercise, it occurred to me that I was often thankful for the same things. My husband, my children, my health…. So, I decided to try something new: be thankful for the things that hurt, that sucked, that were seemingly negative, but no doubt shaped me more than the positive shit.
So, I thought about my Dad. I placed him in my heart, and I thanked him deeply and showed deep gratitude for his illness (illness here). Something that has caused me deep, deep pain, and I drank it in and said a labored “thank you.” Why?
What gratitude can I glean from this situation?
Honestly, there’s plenty. If my Dad hadn’t gotten sick, and if I hadn’t watched in horror as he deteriorated and became a shell of his mountain man self, I know I wouldn’t be where I am today. His illness sent me on a path. It raised my awareness and brought about a cascading of events that shape exactly where I am, and who I am, in this present moment.
Reflecting specifically, here are some of the ways my Dad’s illness has changed my world for the better:
- My attention wouldn’t have been piqued towards ketogenic diet. When a functional MD recommended the ketogenic diet as a treatment for the myriad of health issues my Dad was experiencing (that presented as dementia), I became keenly aware that this diet had an important role in health and longevity. I just wasn’t sure why or how.
- I wouldn’t have perked up and started using coconut oil. Around 10 years ago, I caught a segment on the news (which I never watch) about a doctor who was using it to reverse her husband’s Alzheimer’s.
- I wouldn’t have did the research, continuing education, and reading that I’ve done to educate and learn about brain health and longevity. I wouldn’t know what I know, if my Dad hadn’t gotten sick. It raised my awareness and empowered me to make changes in my diet and lifestyle that will undoubtedly lead to greater health and longevity for me and my family.
- I wouldn’t have been blessed with some of the people that have come across my path. I wouldn’t have found the company I am now a part of. I wouldn’t have met some of the amazing partners I have in that company, and I wouldn’t get to work side by side to bring awareness to these topics together.
- I wouldn’t be as inspired to live my life fully and take care of myself in the same way. The chronic awareness that I could finish my days rotting slowly….that’s motivating. I ought to take advantage and grab every moment by the fucking balls.
- Because my Dad got sick, I became aware of something that may help someone else’s Dad, brother, husband, wife…before it is too late.
These reasons give me deep meaning, deep purpose, and yes, DEEP GRATITUDE for my Dad’s illness. And every time I feel broken and wonder “WHY?” What’s the reason? What’s the purpose? I’m reminded…if it hadn’t happened as it was, I would likely lead a less purposeful existence, a less honest existence, and above all else, an existence of entitlement or expectation.
Life can be ugly. But it is these ugly, dirty moments that give the meaning to the beautiful, tender, passionate moments…. The bad is what can fuel the good, the purpose, the meaning….but only if you let it.
So take the ugly moments and fan those flames with the gasoline of gratitude and you will no doubt fuel an inspired life.