I tend to agree with Job’s outlook on life—that we cannot only accept the good things that come our way; we must also accept the bad (Job 2:10).
Living in gratitude is my sign that I am accepting whatever life brings me—good or bad. When I am feeling grateful, I know that I am focused on the good in whatever is happening in my life and investing my energy in what is positive and hopeful. Those difficulties that inevitably happen in life don’t go away, but, when acknowledged, get transformed into invitations to accept and let go.
When my friend Jim was sick, we practiced gratitude every day. We would talk about all of our blessings—the people who were helping us, the great medical care he was getting, all the prayers and cards—the very fact that we were still alive.
On the 8th of each month, the anniversary of the day he had a seizure and was diagnosed with brain cancer, I would retell the story of that day. We would talk about how fortunate we were that I found him, that he lived near an excellent hospital and that he was able to get the care he needed.
In the midst of this horrible diagnosis—very aggressive and incurable brain cancer—we were able to find so much to appreciate.
At one point during Jim’s illness, I thought about starting a blog and inviting people whose lives had been affected by cancer or some other tragedy to write about the generosity and kindness they received; I was certain others must have felt as blessed as we did.
With the blog in mind, while talking with a woman whose husband is a cancer survivor, I asked her if she remembered people’s kindnesses while her husband was sick. Without hesitation, she told me this story: her husband was diagnosed in late November and she was in shock and not thinking of decorating for the holidays. One day, a neighbor hung a Christmas wreath on their front door. She was touched by his thoughtfulness because decorating was far from her mind and the wreath made her happy and grateful every time she walked through the door.
Her story reminded me of the night I came home from the hospital to find someone had done some weeding for me. I never found out who did it; some generous person who saw a way to help and acted. I was so touched by their good deed, and so grateful.
Such simple acts of kindness can make a huge difference.
Practicing gratitude helps me be more aware of the generosity of others. Bad things are part of life; I accept that, and I chose to focus more energy on being grateful for the good that life brings me.