Have you ever heard the story about the blind boy sitting on the steps of a building with a hat by his feet, and a sign that read *I am blind, please help*?
It goes on to say —
There were a few coins in the hat, spare change from the people as they hurried past. At one point a man walked by. He took a few coins from his pocket and dropped them into the hat, then took the sign, turned it around, and wrote something on the back. He gave the sign to the boy facing the way that everyone who walked by would now see the new words.
Soon the hat began to fill. A lot more people were giving money to the blind boy. That afternoon, the man returned to see how things were going. The boy recognized his footsteps and asked, “Were you the one who changed my sign this morning? What did you write?”
The man said, “I only wrote the truth. I said what you said, but in a different way. I wrote, *Today is a beautiful day, but I cannot see it*.”
Both signs spoke the truth. The first sign simply said the boy was blind. The second sign allowed for the passers-by to take pause, and remember how grateful they are for the gift of sight.
There is so much we take for granted in our lives. So much, that until we lose it, we don’t realize how precious it is. If there’s something we’ve ALWAYS had; whether it be a body that “works the way it should”, a home, plenty of food, a loving supportive family (you may have a few of your own to throw in here); something has to awaken us to the knowing that these are things we should deeply appreciate. Often it takes a loss of some sort for us to awaken to this knowing. Something that robs us of our illusion that “bad things don’t happen to good people” or “if I work hard enough, everything will be okay” or…what may your illusion have been? Suddenly it’s, “But I’m a good person! Why me?!” or, “I did everything right, what went wrong?!”
Then, when life throws us a curve ball, we can find it difficult to feel thankful. Somehow we’ve missed it whether things are going our way, or not. “Thankful for WHAT?!”, you may want to yell, “This isn’t fair! I worked my ass of for that company and they fired me! I gave my life to that man/woman and (s)he left me! I did all the right things for my child and …”. Unfortunately, sometimes “bad” things happen to good people, and hard work doesn’t always mean things will turn out the way you want. So, then what?
It would be irresponsible, and unrealistic, of me to tell you to ignore the pain, to avoid the darkness, ONLY seek the good. Denial is not the way. We must feel all the feels, for sure. AND we must choose to find the light. I’m also not going to be one of those that says, “Everything happens for a reason, find what the reason is”. Although I will say, “Everything happens… So, what can I learn from it. What good can come from it? Can I be thankful for the learning, and who I can be now because of it?” And if not that, not yet…”What else in my life CAN I be thankful for… right now?!!” I’m not saying it’s always easy. When your heart has broken into a million pieces because your daughter has an illness that you may never find a “cure” for, when your world is shattered because you’ve been betrayed by the one who is supposed to love you, when you watch your mother deteriorate before your very eyes and can do nothing about it…one might struggle to feel thankful for anything. Indeed…I may know a thing or two about the challenge in these scenarios. But, I am thankful. Everyday. Who I am, is because of my heartbreaks (as well as my heart joys). How I show up for others, is in direct correlation to what I’ve been through. And if you find me in a moment that I am not feeling grateful, I do hope you’ll be with me as I find my way back to the blessings in my life. I promise to do the same for you. You are a gift. Your life is gift. All of it.
Gratitude is something we choose. Something we practice. Something we cultivate more and more of over time. It’s a way of looking at the world, and what is good in it, with a feeling of appreciation, regardless of whether or not your current situation is to your liking. It is a way of being, a heart-centered approach to life, an attitude of appreciation for all you have. The more thankful you are, the more you will have to be thankful for. I truly hope you won’t wait until you have lost something beautiful in your life to realize how grateful you “should’ve” been. Let’s not take life for granted.
Although Thanksgiving comes but once a year, Giving Thanks is a regular practice of mine. Whether it be when I wake in the morning, or when I lie down at night, I take a moment to put out into the universe what I am grateful for. Many nights I’ll do this with my daughters. They will share a few things, as will I. It’s a beautiful way to wrap up the day. It also helps to build a muscle for them. One that I didn’t develop until much later in life….GRATITUDE.
Today I Give Thanks for my precious daughters, my family, my amazing friends and powerful tribe; for my health, my home, my nourishing meals; for my curiosity, my wanting to understand, my immense love for humanity; for each of you and your presence in my life; and so, so much more. I hope you’ll take a moment to feel, in your heart, what you are thankful for today (and every day).
With all of my heart, I send out LOVE to you. Be sure to let the people in your life know how thankful you are for their presence.