I was recently in a conversation with friends and the subject of gratitude came up, specifically how there seems to be such a shortage of it today. We are a busy people, all of us, and there’s no shortage of energy expressing all that is wrong in our lives. If only we could expend such energy (gratitude) on what is right in our lives.
Distraction plays a big role here. Time is short and we are much in demand, and it seems it is the negatives in life that catch our attention, i.e. they are the priority, consuming our minds and ultimately weighing us down. We are reminded of everything we don’t have versus everything we do, and too often we take all that is right in our lives for granted, even the bad things, because they too have purpose.
Maybe it’s a symptom of age. I don’t recall myself reflecting daily and giving thanks for all that was good in my life when I was young. In my arrogance I simply assumed it was my right that life was good – I expected life to be good and easy and abundant, and when it wasn’t I blamed everything from God, to destiny, to luck, bad luck. Age and experience have made me a little more conscious of appreciating not only all that is good in my life, but also all that wasn’t. It wasn’t always that way.
When something goes very right it’s easy to celebrate but when something goes wrong how often do we step back and think, “ok, why did this happen, and how can I make it of benefit to me?” We don’t. But we should because everything happens for a reason and the reason is never to punish us but rather to learn.
I lost my job a few years ago. The circumstances were unpleasant and I didn’t feel I deserved the way I was treated, and in my naive emotional state I honestly thought justice would prevail and I would be exonerated, at the very least supported but the corporate world doesn’t always seek justice. Too often they hide under the guise of ‘a business decision’ or ‘restructuring’ or ‘you’ve simply served your purpose and we’re done with you’. In this case it was more a matter of taking the easy way out and minimizing any public fallout. Releasing me was quicker and less ‘visual’ that dealing with the bigger problem. I went through all the stages, shock, disappointment, anger at the betrayal,,,,,, but not for long, and that surprised me….more even, than the act itself.
In trying to justify the situation in my mind, I had to ask myself if it would’ve been better had it never happened and the answer really shocked me. NO. No, it would not have been better. I realized then that I had been working in a toxic environment and it was slowly killing me. I didn’t see it but friends and family did and they would subtly comment but I wasn’t listening, so fate took the wheel. Or maybe it was destiny or God or I don’t know who (personally I think it was God, but that’s my belief). All I know is that I was forcibly removed from an environment that was hurting my psyche….and it was a good thing because….eventually I was grateful. I was of the age and position to retire, so I did. That doesn’t make the injustice hurt any less but it did make me reflective. I came to realize that one way or another I had to get out of that environment, and I wasn’t doing it myself, so God, intervened,,,,for my own good.
That experience made me really appreciate everything in my life. I’m in a better place. I spend time with my family, my friends, and I no longer lament the things that supposedly went wrong because from something so very wrong came something so very good, and I found myself feeling something in this situation I hadn’t imagined ….gratitude. Gratitude isn’t always just about the good things in life, although we should always be thankful for those anyway because they’re just a gift. It’s about evaluating everything in life, measuring its’ worth, appreciating the lesson, and taking stock.
Not a day goes by that I don’t thank God for the people in my life, what I have, and where I am. I will never understand the ‘how’ or ‘why’ of some things, but I will trust that they occur the way they do for good reason, and I will always be grateful for the outcome. Take nothing for granted. Focus on the good, work with the bad, but don’t give it excess energy because it’ll just drain you. Take from ‘the bad’ the lesson and find the positive spin in it because there is always one….look at my story. Things happen. Life is good.