Nine things grateful people believe

by Lori Deschene

“Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. It turns what we have into enough, and more.” ~ Melody Beattie

My title was a little misleading, at least based on my personal beliefs.
I don’t believe the world fits neatly into some massive yin yang with grateful people on one side and ungrateful people on the other; but rather, we all go through times when we feel high and low degrees of gratitude, and that’s only human nature.

It’s okay to feel angry, despondent, and disappointed. It’s okay to wish things were different – that we were healthier, or happier, or generally less lost in the world.

There’s nothing evolved about ignoring reality or repressing our emotions. But there’s a difference between embracing our feelings and stewing in them.
It might not be possible tofeel grateful all the time, but it is possible to be grateful more often than not.

The opposite was true for me for years, but I’ve shifted my ratio of grateful to ungrateful moments by adopting and reinforcing the following beliefs.

1. Everyone has something to teach or offer me.

That person who cut you off in traffic – she’s likely not selfish, but rather someone who’s having a stressful day and rushing. Annoying, yes, but thankfully this is an opportunity to practice patience.

That person who broke your heart – he’s likely not a sadic who took pleasure in your pain, but rather someone who was human and hurting, just like you, and did the best he could. Distressing, yes, but thankfully this taught you a great deal about yourself and what a healthy relationship entails.

This mindset was difficult for me to adopt. For a long time I felt convinced that some people were beyond understanding. And, I thought, like Miley Cyrus, some of them came into my life like a wrecking ball and provided absolutely no value.

I now see that I’ve learned something from every broken heart, broken hope, and broken promise. It’s all helped me become a stronger, wiser, more compassionate person, and the same is true for anyone who chooses to see it that way.

2. There’s something valuable in every challenge.

Just like every person can offer us something valuable, every challenge can contain an opportunity as well.

To be clear, I don’t think we need to see everything as a blessing in disguise. In her book Bright-Sided, author Barbara Ehrenreich shared her resentment for the implication she should see her cancer as a gift. I understand why she felt that way.
This goes back to what I wrote in the beginning – there’s nothing worthwhile about pretending we’re not shocked, saddened, and disappointed by the hardships that come our way. It doesn’t benefit anyone to ignore our natural feelings in the face of trauma and tragedy.

But it is possible to acknowledge that, while some things are just plain bad, good things can come from them.

When my grandmother passed away several years back, we all wished we had more time with her. But that began a new tradition for my extended family. Once a week, on the day when my mother previously took my grandmother out to dinner, my aunt, uncle, cousins, parents, and siblings get together for “family night.”

It was a tradition born from tragedy, but one that’s brought everyone closer.
On the other side of loss there’s an opportunity for gain, if we’re willing to seek or create it.

3. Even if I don’t have what I want, I’m fortunate to have what I need.

Very few people have everything they want. True, some may have a lot more than others, but the vast majority of us have hopes that have yet to be fulfilled.

We have dreams and goals and ambitions. We want things and experiences and opportunities. We want to be a little richer, for life to feel a little fuller, and to generally get the sense that we’re moving forward, not backward.

Still, amid all the ups and downs and highs and lows, many of us have everything we need, or at least most of it. We have somewhere to live, food to eat, people to turn to, and the ability to pursue whatever it is we’d like to achieve in life.

Those things are not givens. Many people – and you may be one of them – do not have their basic needs met.

I didn’t always appreciate this, because it didn’t seem to make my challenges any easier. But if I didn’t have those needs met, my challenges would certainly be harder.

4. The “little things” are the big things.

If you keep a gratitude journal, you’ve likely recognized just how many touching, fortunate, or fun little things happen every day.

I’ve listed the following in my gratitude journal:

• My new adult coloring books, which provide stress-relief and joy
• Getting to see the Christmas tree lighting at The Grove with my fiancé and an old friend
• Taking a hot bath with a magazine
• Getting a cheap but awesome snack for lunch
• Anticipating a fun family visit for Thanksgiving
• The smell of food cooking in my parents’ kitchen

It’s not every day we get a new job, marry the love our life, or bring a child or passion project into the world. Most smiles in life stem from little things, appreciated.


September 26, 2019


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