Sunday, November 3, 2013

A Month of Gratitude

Fig Lake Sunset © Amy M. Dagen
It has become a tradition among many bloggers to write of gratitude during the month of November, and so I thought it fitting to dust off my keyboard and join them.

If you've read any of my posts in the past, you already know that the expression of gratitude is very important to me and a central part of my life.  A few years ago, a friend shared the practice of keeping a gratitude journal, and using it in which to write down ten things for which you are grateful, six times a day. While I will admit that its not a practice I follow religiously (being somewhat of a free spirit, there is little I do "religiously")... the "counting of blessings" eventually became like breathing.

Through some of the darkest moments of my life, it has been the counting of blessings, the expression of gratitude in the midst of difficult circumstances, which has brought light to overcome darkness, healing to defeat illness, joy to conquer despair.  The expression of gratitude is my lifeline and parachute and safety net.

When one looks at life through the lens of gratitude, somehow it shifts ones perspective from "I'm poor and will never have enough" to "I'm rich and so incredibly blessed". It doesn't matter whether in regard to money or time, health or relationships or career; when viewed with gratitude, it seems the good things in life multiply exponentially, and the bad shrink and fade into the background.

This does not mean bad things will not happen to those who live in gratitude; surely, and unfortunately, they will. Rotten, awful, tragic, inconvenient... stuff happens. Life happens. And those bad things really stink. This is, after all, earth and not Heaven... and we are all fallible human beings who make mistakes. Tragedies occur, natural disasters and financial pitfalls and personal betrayals and disappointments abound. People say and do crummy things, loved ones fail us. Beloved friends and family pass away. Quite often, it rains on our parade.

So what's to be thankful for?

Everything. All of it. Every single day.

You may be thinking that to be quite a Pollyanna view... thankful for EVERYTHING? Really?

Yes.  Because it is in the darkness that we learn to appreciate light.  It is while we are in pain, that we learn to appreciate the absence of pain.  In the lean times, we learn to appreciate abundance.  Challenges and disappointments are what spark creativity and transformation.

I'm grateful to have learned this, and yes, it was the hard way; by fighting through darkness, living with pain, enduring lean times, experiencing tragedy, healing from heartbreak. Its a lesson I need to keep revisiting because life still keeps happening; in no way am I perfect in my expressions of gratitude and there are days when darkness creeps in.

What I am pretty good at, however, is bouncing back. And through the month of November, I will attempt to share some of the ways in which I experience gratitude, in the hope that someone, somewhere, will benefit from it...

and maybe even learn to bounce.

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