Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Gratitude

I don’t share much about my personal life here, but an incident last Sunday afternoon inspired this post. It had been just another Sunday, taking care of chores and the daily incidentals, when a neighbor frantically knocked on my front door, screaming. My son was sitting up in the middle of the road a few doors from our house, screaming, blood pouring from his mouth. He’d been hit by a large pick-up while he was on his bike. After an ambulance ride and an evening in the E.R., he was clearly in much better condition than we had any right to expect or hope for, given what had happened. He walked away from the incident with a fractured upper jaw, a few broken teeth, and a consultation appointment with an oral surgeon, plus a lot of bumps and bruises. He’s got a decent recovery ahead of him, but he’ll be fine and healthy.


I’m not good with gratitude, regardless of how hard I try. I have a tendency to see the glass as half-empty, worrying over everything. Spending an evening being reminded, even while I worried over pain medication and plastic surgery consultations, that I was amazingly fortunate may have changed that perspective. I know that the next few weeks and months will be stressful, as we manage insurance companies and treatment plans, but I still have a little boy with legos underfoot and overly long talks about Tolkein and Harry Potter.


Now, there’s a reason I’m sharing this, and it’s not to get sympathy for the fact that I’ve been up every two or three hours to dose a hurting child with pain medication for the last two nights. I’m going to talk just a little bit about gratitude. Psychologists tell us that simply practicing gratitude and learning to be thankful for what you have will increase your overall happiness substantially. I think it’s fair to say that we all hope to be happier, regardless of the challenges and struggles in our own lives.


I’m challenging all of you and myself to make a few simple changes in our daily lives, in the hopes of being happier and more fulfilled. These don’t have to be forever and committing for changes forever is never an easy task. Research varies on how long it takes to form a habit, so I’m going to go long with this one and ask for 100 days. That seems like a nice round number. Gratitude doesn’t necessarily happen naturally, and it is something you need to work at and practice, ideally daily. While your gratitude practice can resemble prayer or meditation, it certainly doesn’t have to, if it doesn’t suit your belief system.


Claim just a few minutes in the morning and evening for a gratitude practice. Each morning, sit in silence and think about the things you have to be thankful for and express that gratitude to the universe. Before bed each night, write down at least three things you are grateful for that day. Sometimes these may be big things--health, a job, a roof over your head. At other times, they can be small or minor things, like a perfectly frosted cupcake, a new dress, or lingerie that makes your body look just the way you prefer. Take the time to say thank you to those around you, both in large and small ways. Thank your partner for her love and support, thank your best girlfriend for always being there for you when you need a night of margaritas and brownies, or thank your cat for listening when you need someone to hear and not respond. Take the time to say thank you for good service when you’re shopping or to send a note to a business that has always given you their best.

Will this change anything in your life, in mine? I don’t know. I’m good, but I’m not quite psychic-good. I don’t think it will hurt any of us to recognize the good in our lives and our world, even when it’s sometimes hard to see, and maybe we’ll all be a bit happier after this experiment. So, early this morning, I am grateful for the oxycodone that is letting a hurt little boy sleep and for the job that allows me to be here to care for him, without worry about my income. I am grateful for the friends and family that have shown up at my door with meals and new toys, and for the classmates that have showered him with handmade get-well cards. I even have it within me to manage to be grateful for the cold, rainy day that lends itself to making a pot of soup and snuggling under a quilt while watching yet another movie. What are you grateful for today?


36 comments:

Anonymous said...

We all have many things to be grateful for. Your comments are right and in the right place--just where no one would expect to see something written so well, so personal, so NOT about crossdressing. Whatever the task, repetition or ritual tends to make us better at it--so why not expressing gratitude. We so often learn not to expect much from others; your story starts with a boy who expects everything from others and has a perfectly reasonable reason for feeling that way. How do we get from one to the other?

AnnFriedmannMD said...

Best wishes to your son for a speedy recovery. Through many painful life experiences I too understand that if I am grateful on a daily basis for the beauty that is always there, I can then walk through anything.Thank you for your heartfelt post.

Anonymous said...

nice
im happy to share my womanside with people who like to be more open
than average
both sides are gaining
this is my moment in the morning to be gratefull thet i can do what i feel insidece and share

Anonymous said...

I am grateful that you chose to share this with us.
I hope your son has a swift recovery & I hope you keep being the strong person you are.

david mariette said...

Thank you! We all deal with our S___! I am so happy your son is going to be alright. Sometimes (like a lot more than sometimes)we get caught up in all the crap around us that we do forget that there is a lot around us that is not "crap."

Thank you for the reminder. The sun actually came out today after weeks of extended winter in Minnesota. Myself and many others are extremely grateful for that!

All the best!

David

Jerry The Geek said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Gary Duncan said...

I agree hole-heatedly! I am a three time sever traumatic brain injury survivor. I don't know any way to be but thankful. It works for the betterment of my situation. I am a college student, going for my degree in Elementary Education with a long term goal of becoming a Special Ed. Teacher. I'm in such the habit of thanking people, I thank them some times and they say "for what" My reply is usually "You're a witness to the miracles God works in my life, therefore, you have blessed me, for God is calling me to witness to you, therefore enriching my soul!"
Thank you for listening!
Gary

Perrin Rynning said...

Thank you for sharing. For what they may be worth, I add my own hopes for a full and speedy recovery to your son.

CiCi Kytten said...

Cupcake,

We've shared this blog for a while now, but we've never met. I was so sorry to hear your story and please know that i wish you and your family strength and healing in the months ahead.

But i must say, from your writing, i have a hard time seeing you as a glass-half-empty person. Quite the opposite. You give such loving, caring, clear-headed advice... even now with so much going on in your family life.

Thanks so much for all you do to inspire our readers. And i wish your son a speedy recovery.

xoxo,
CiCi

JackieOhNo said...

Hey cupcake,
Sometimes our kids can make our hearts skip a beat or two.We'll be praying for you and him for a quick recovery.
My son was hit twice by a vehicle,first time when he was
nine or ten,second time by a bus, he was 38 yrs .He's okay now TG.
You and CiCi help many people with your articles,now we hope to help you,if only with words of joy.
Gratitude is my most cherished possession.I've been clean and sober over 30 yrs.When my roof leaks or when my car breaks down I have to say I wouldn't have a house or car,
or life itself if I weren't sober.
I also wouldn't be a happy goofy Xdresser It's how we look at life.
God bless. JackieOhNo. XOXOs

Anonymous said...

Thanks for sharing your experience. I learned about being grateful and being happy from VeggieTales Madam Blueberry. God wants us to find out how to be grateful and He give us happiness when we take his challenge on. I will pray for you and your boy. I am so amazed by it turning out ok. (hard but ok). Tanya

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