One of the biggest life lessons for most of us, is how to exercise our gratitude muscle. It’s the means of feeling on a daily basis, good about your life, even when things are tough. Maybe, especially useful, when life is tough.
We all have pivotal moments in our lives, the older we get, the more we have. One of mine falls on February 1st, 2012.
It’s etched in my mind because it began the chapter of my life where chronic pain started. A journey which would be the catalyst for huge change in my life. Of course I didn’t know that then and I sure didn’t know how it would change how I looked at my future .
That was almost seven years ago. Huh. Time flies, well kind of . Sometimes, when the pain was barely tolerable time crawled. I had too much time, too much pain and felt I had too few options. I wasn’t in a gratitude state of mind, but rather at my lowest moments, contemplated how and why I would want to continue living if things persisted as they were.
Like so many others with chronic pain, my life was filled with countless appointments and efforts to improve my situation. My life became a shadow of what I’d been living and I had to face the possibility that the rest of my life might be much different than what I’d planned.
I recall thinking in the early days, when this is better, when I am better, I’ll have a new found empathy and compassion for people with chronic pain.
Well that hasn’t changed!
Companions in compassion
During the journey, I’ve found gratitude to be a spirit lifter. Chronic pain drills down to a narrow focus, but gratitude expands your vision. Gratitude opens your heart and heightens your senses. I learned to listen for compassion, for empathy and was always grateful when I found it.
Many of the practitioners with whom I worked in trying to heal my back injury were especially gifted in showing their compassion. One of these was a kinesiologist, a young man in his twenties. He too had staged his own comeback from an injury and he shared, “It really increased my patience, empathy and compassion for the people I work with.”
He went on to say that there’s something to be learned in every situation and circumstance. I nodded appreciatively. I couldn’t agree more.
He got it and I was filled with gratitude that our paths had crossed. Touched by both his attitude and demeanour, his own journey of empathy and compassion was evident in how he talked to me and taught me. He didn’t dismiss me or my pain. I felt seen and heard. In this day and age, to feel both is to inspire a deep sense of gratitude
The gift of gratitude
It would be great if we were better at acknowledging the good stuff in the time that it is happening. That’s where the gift of appreciation and gratitude come in. Practice it on a daily basis. Take the moment to view a stunning sunset and be glad you were open to the moment and knew when to stop and take it in. That is a lesson in gratitude.
Lessons learned, the important ones like gratitude, are those that leave us changed, for the better. That connect us and enrich our lives.
These days, I am pain free. To get here, I had to do some soul searching and make tremendous changes in my life. They took courage, and a willingness to live with the uncertainty of the outcome. The underlying gift of the journey, beyond the disappearance of pain, has been my attitude of gratitude. Nothing is certain in this life, but how we choose to navigate our many challenges is a skill that stands the test of time.
We have many choices as to whether we decide to feel gratitude within our lives or whether we choose to remain, exactly as we are. I know what a gift it has been in my life. Have you found the power of gratitude in your life?
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