Surely those options scarcely differ yet they do strike me differently. Either I’m fundamentally grateful & thankful for that disposition or I’ve ascertained there’s much to be thankful for & am grateful I have. We may each innately lean one direction or the other; either appreciative at the outset or reminding ourselves why we should be. We’re more likely in constant flux between the two. With RhodesTer, for example, there are times when I gratefully tell my husband how lucky I am to be married to my best friend while, at other times, I’m thankful to have a best friend that knows my husband so well — typically when I’m baffled by him. I practically can’t help but see the best in people & things, no doubt due to being raised to seek the best in myself. I’m also wholly & constantly aware that every silver lining has a cloud (w/props to Eeyore).
Being an optimistic realist — a Pollyanna with a dark side, if you will — I have an abiding trust that there is a greater good. Balance is a necessary state of existence throughout the universe thus all that good gets served on one hellacious platter known as the human condition. All people & things do have that inherent greatness within I can’t help look for but are also incredibly flawed. Were I an optimistic realist, I’d no doubt look right past those flaws & rejoice in whatever goodness I found. The thing is, I want to rejoice in both. I want to accept everything gratefully, just for what it is; no more, no less. Our wholeness comes from our conflict, our brilliance from our struggles, our beauty from our flaws.. How else could the whole be greater than its parts? Oh how it is tho’, oh how it is!
Our focus affects our attitude & our attitude affects everything. Happiness is a choice, love is an action & gratitude is the key to both. Many are striving to achieve happiness, forgetting that — if they can’t be happy now — they’ll never learn to be. Love &, more importantly, unconditional love is doubted by even those who’ve received it. Sadly, that’s a failure of the imagination for they simply cannot imagine their flaws are as loveable as their potential. When we let ourselves believe that worth comes from potential, we end up believing it’s the fulfillment of purpose &/or person that is appreciated. The assumption is that it’s each accomplishment, within or without, that earns appreciation & love. The reality is what we do well doesn’t mean a damn without a backdrop of failure. Who we are at any given time, for better or worse, is part & parcel of who we’re meant to be.
The alcoholic teen I once was made a choice I’m grateful for, to walk the talk & talk her heart which led to laying who she was on the line with a take-it-or-leave-it approach. No half-assed appreciation of me anymore, from myself or others. I’d far, far rather earn disdain as readily as any admiration. Working to redirect my addictive tendencies led to encounters with people who were thankful for their sobriety but had never imbibed!? How the Hell can you appreciate accomplishing something (clean-living) when you’ve never been unable to (self-destructive)?! By all means be grateful for any freedom from addiction you may enjoy but don’t you dare take pride in steering clear when it was not a struggle to do so. We all have something to be proud of so find that. Share that. Allow me to see where you’ve struggled; let me love you for just how human you are & how far you’ve come.
Everything we experience & all that we’re going through deserves the same consideration. The souls & situations present along our journey are lending their energy, their challenges, their very beings to our becoming. Is there anything we could or should be more grateful for? Peruse the clouds surrounding you, from those hosting rainbows to the fog banks, & explore the silver linings. There’s so much to give thanks for & much to learn from even the darkest clouds. If you just can’t find the bright side to any of them & have no reason to trust one will appear, that particular cloud doesn’t belong in your life. Give thanks for that discovery & start working towards its dissipation. Take hold of all the brightness you find & allow yourself to really feel it for that’s happiness. Happiness, love & worth are ever-present; it’s up to us to be open to them & make room for them. As to whether you’re first grateful or thankful, 😉 simply allow yourself to be both. This Thanksgiving, I’m thankful for all I have to be grateful for.
“Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. It turns what we have into enough, and more. It turns denial into acceptance, chaos to order, confusion to clarity. It can turn a meal into a feast, a house into a home, a stranger into a friend. Gratitude makes sense of our past, brings peace for today
and creates a vision for tomorrow.”
~ Melody Beattie ~
PS: Please open this Thanksgiving card before you go.. “Thank YOU!”