For years now, I have always intended to live with an attitude of gratitude. Meaning, those are always my intentions, and to be quite honest, I thought I was doing a very good job of it. Most days, I will write about something for which I am grateful. My sons and I often talk about things for which each of us or all of us are grateful. But it wasn't until I received a message on LinkedIn, from an old acquaintance, that I called my gratitude practice into question, wondering if I was being as grateful as I can be or living with a grateful perspective?
In her message to me, my old acquaintance told me how her family had been. In her recap, she wrote that one of her sons had been involved in a terrible car accident, which left him with a badly broken leg that ultimately required surgery and steel rods. I immediately thought about how awful it all sounded, but her next line read, "We are so blessed." They were blessed because he'd survived and was in the process of healing. She was grateful that she was in the position to homeschool him and that they had the means to keep it all together while all of this transpired. But, as hard as I try to be grateful in my life, I'd immediately turned to sorrow and sympathy when I read her story.
I realize that, perhaps, I am being far too hard on myself. That night I questioned my attitude towards gratitude. Here I am always trying to inspire others to be grateful and not doing a very good job of it myself. But when I wrote about it, I realize that she and I were at different places in processing the information about the accident and her son's injury. And that sorrow, sympathy, pain, and all other negative feelings have their place and there are times when we should feel them. They are part of the normal and natural range of emotions. We cannot/I cannot ignore all of the other valid emotions that I might feel because I am trying to be positive or grateful. The other emotions are a part of my human experience, and once felt, I can hope to look at the "bright side" or "what I've learned" or look at the situation from another perspective, which clearly, my friend was able to do. Perhaps she didn't feel that way at the moment the accident occurred. No one is grateful that someone he or she loves is injured in an accident.
I still believe that being grateful is important and a healthy attitude to strive for, but I also don't see it as a state we can perpetually be in. It is something to reach for though. It is the hopeful energy that pulls us forward in light. We are emotional beings with a wide range of experiences and emotions. Getting to the lessons and arriving at a state of gratitude can, in fact, be a process. It is a journey, and we should recognize it/them as such. In moments of crisis and tragedy there is often something for which we can find to be grateful, such as the heroes or people who reach out to help during such times, but there can also tremendous pain. And it has to be okay to feel the sorrow or pain and to feel it deeply. I think knowing the depth of our negative emotions gives us a greater awareness and appreciation for our positive emotions.
I wish you awareness and appreciation this week.
Have a wonderful week.