three perspectives and one conclusion:
1) gratitude for the distasteful tasks that pave the way for growth:
thinking back to my childhood, one of my favorite cartoons was “popeye the sailor man” i remember that in each episode he faced seemingly insurmountable odds. and often, the object of his greatest affection (olive oil), was in danger of being hurt in some way. the program always made fanfare of the moment that popeye found his strength; when he downed an entire can of a child’s most despised vegetable: SPINACH! but, what if popeye hadn’t eaten the spinach? What if he hadn’t been willing to suffer the unappetizing difficulties in order to arrive at greater strength?
2) gratitude for the not so great memories and events in our lives that give us a chance us stronger and wiser instead of weaker and bitter.
imagine getting up every morning saying thank you for the kids who made fun of you as a child, the girls/boys who rejected your advances as a teen and the co-workers who make your life miserable. jason mraz sings a song that includes the not always wonderful events in our lives that make us the wonderful people we are. this is the hardest… and best kind of gratitude.
3) gratitude for the many health benefits of a life lived with grateful attitude.
being grateful is actually good for our health according to more than a few researchers. in an article published by psychology today, “Psychologists Robert Emmons and Michael McCullough point out that gratitude is the “forgotten factor” in happiness research. They point out the benefits of expressing gratitude as ranging from better physical health to improved mental alertness. People who express gratitude also are more likely to offer emotional support to others.”
according to changeblog writer marelisa fabrega, “gratitude shifts your focus from what your life lacks to the abundance that is already present. ” gratitude’s treasure of heroes share a single idea: FOCUS, and in the face of trouble they look outside of themselves for strength. by looking outward the inner “us” finds strength.
CONCLUSION: A SINGLE PERSPECTIVE
the hardest kind of gratitude is the kind that accepts conflict, struggle and adversity as part of life. it’s the kind of gratitude that finds possibility in struggle and rejoices for often overlooked small blessings. it is the gratitude of paying attention.
in these days of great personal physical pain, i am thinking about how much the little things matter and how much i have learned in just this month alone.
- there are treasures in my own back yard: (the fish in my pond, the 5 lined skinks already roaming about, the spider egg sack in the tree, (that were it not for being still and looking up instead of down, i would never have discovered), sunshine through dandelion fluff, tiny “weed” like flowers popping up everywhere. the first damselfly of the season, mole tunnels, bees, wasps) and march isn’t even over!
- i can receive help and not die in the process. it’s OK to accept care from loved ones. it even adds to the overall health of a relationship. my people blessings this month include (in no specific order… but i want to name each one): juan carlos (for driving me around, cooking my meals, walking the dogs, holding my hand when i am in pain, rubbing my leg with ben gay, bringing me whatever i need when i ask…), annette (my friend and confidant, for ALWAYS being there), kay (who has taken of her own time to drive me to the doctor, bring me home and say awesome things about me that make me smile and want to be alive!), joyce (who calls, takes me for rides in the park, out to eat indian food and to starbucks for coffee), carolina (who has picked up much of my slack this past month, makes me smile every day, gives me hugs and tells me i will be missed next year), rocio (who has also done me a million favors, who runs our department with expertise, who calls me doña, shares her baby photos with me and always treats me with respect), tom, carla, marcia, fred, (each one ready with a shoulder, an ear and a favor or two), each of the students in each of my classes and my study hall (who make going to work each day a joy and opportunity), the subs (whose names i do not know) that filled in for me during my absence, the doctors and emergency room staff, pharmacists, and lastly, but most importantly, my children, their significant others and my and grandchildren who make me smile at the sound of their voices.
i feel more grateful than at any other time in my life. and i say this knowing that i haven’t been on one spring walk since march 3rd and probably won’t get out for one before the flowers are gone. i say this knowing that for the first time in 33 years of teaching i have maxed out on my allotted number of sick days. i am all too aware that i sleep little at night and cry much during the corners of each day. i haven’t been able to walk my dogs since march 3rd and i look like a very old, sick lady when i slide my heavy, hurting leg just to put one foot in front of the other by the end of a school day. but i feel the love of family and friends. i can face-time with my grandkids and interact with them by phone. i feel the warmth of spring. i can read about how spring is unfolding all over the world. the world itself, is open to me. i can read, listen, watch, learn, express my feelings, think, remember, ask questions, ponder, dream and hope to be completely better by june, when i am going to the galapagos.
that’s a lot to be grateful for. as i list these things, i am actually blown away by the enormity of by blessings. i am lucky to be me! really, really lucky!