“I’m grateful!” one of the wonderful by-products of the pressure of adversity, is gaining momentum as a response to “How are you?” Instead of replying, “I’m fine,” when I share that “I’m grateful” my audience is informed that I’m not only well, but “I’m fine because I’m grateful.” I once read that “The joy of living comes from a heart of thanksgiving” and these words resonated with me. Perhaps others can generate a different outcome, but it is impossible for me to remain sad, disappointed, or angry when I shift my focus and list the things that I am thankful/grateful for. When I enumerate:
|1.||I am grateful for my life.||6.||I am grateful for the sun and rain|
|2.||I am grateful for my health.||7.||I am grateful for the internet.|
|3.||I am grateful for my ability to think.||8.||I am grateful for books.|
|4.||I am grateful for my loved ones and their health.||9.||I am grateful for public transportation.|
|5.||I am grateful for shelter, clothes and food.||10.||I am grateful for my subway pass . . .|
At some point during this exercise, I realize that my list could go on forever – that there is so much I can choose to feel grateful for. My realization/remembrance of the valuable things in and surrounding my life releases bubbles of happiness that fill me up inside. I suddenly feel lighter and emanate a joyful glow. I become kindhearted towards myself and others.
Believe it or not, I often include what would typically be perceived as an unpleasant thing on my grateful list (e.g. “I am grateful for this challenge.”) Like others under the pressure of adversity, I have been forced to assess what really matters to me. My 16 year old daughter, Sabra, recently sustained severe injuries in a car accident. She was a pedestrian that was struck by a driver who ran the red light. I received the call from the police that no mother ever desires to hear “Your daughter is being transported to the emergency room in an ambulance. She has suffered a severe head injury.” Well it turned out that in addition to a severe concussion, Sabra was bleeding internally due to her spleen being lacerated in two places, had a contusion on her lung, broken hand and an array of abrasions over a significant portion of her 5ft 2in body.
The police investigation unit had reported Sabra as a likely fatality due to the fact that she was unconscious and her head was still bleeding when the ambulance arrived. During Sabra’s diagnosis, medical treatment and recovery period my mind and heart was consumed with the desire for my daughter to survive the tragedy. As my son and I cared for Sabra, every other matter diminished in importance and relevance. The tragedy had painfully reminded me that I valued my loved ones and my relationships with people more than anything else.
I was, for the most part, a thankful person prior to my daughter’s brush with death. However, since she was involved in the car accident, I diligently practice being overjoyed at the small and big delights of life. For example, learning that my favorite restaurant has a 50% off Scoutmob deal takes the amount of joy I manage to regularly maintain up a notch and I’m never bashful about expressing it. Some have commented that I have the glee of a child over the smallest things. I thank them for the compliment. I feel empowered being armed with the resilient glee of a child. I’m aware that when I come face to face with the dynamics of life, I can tap into my abundance of gratitude and stay uplifted−I can always choose to have “An Attitude of Gratitude.” I’m also aware that responding “I’m grateful” to “How are you?” may immediately trigger the listener to evaluate the things he could choose to be grateful for and expand the spirit of thanksgiving.