Friday, November 3, 2017

Eyes of Gratitude

It’s November. And, you know what that means...

A whole lot of THANKFUL posts, THANKFUL hashtags, leading up to THANKSgiving Day.

Since I’ve been doing a lot of sitting on the sidelines lately, I’ve been doing a lot of reading, participating in a couple of online courses, and attempting to get some serious writing done while spending a fair amount of time thinking. I guess there is actually an up-side to down-time.

Two topics keep coming up...gratitude and resentment. The two are completely at odds with one another.

Gratitude is being thankful, showing appreciation, returning or extending kindness. That’s kind of what November is all about, right? It is the month for THANKSGIVING.

Resentment is something we don’t talk a lot about. But, if we were completely honest, many of us struggle with this feeling.  The combination of disappointment, anger and fear is the exact opposite of gratitude. Resentment is the feeling that someone has taken something from us and our life is diminished or changed (not for the better) because of that action. (pretty sure a WHOLE lot of folks are struggling with resentment right now concerning world affairs---I know I am) When we find ourselves resenting something, we tend to go over and over the situation in our mind, losing sight of everything else.

Personally, I have been doing battle with resentment for a long time, although I didn’t recognize it as such. One experience, a small moment in time, changed everything...forever... and there was nothing we could do to alter this fact. It wasn’t fair, it wasn’t kind…and it still hurts. Even though we picked up the pieces, re-invented ourselves and went forward, my mind kept returning to the past, longing for some understanding and possibly a different outcome. This colored my outlook on nearly every experience and my own self-worth, proving true the statement from Irish poet John O’Donohue “resentment lives out its poverty and forgets its own inner harvest”.

It seems we have a choice when faced with unexpected and possibly unwelcome situations. Be grateful...looking for a way to appreciate it, to let it affect us for the better. Or be resentful and grumpy.

Author Anne Lamott credits an old priest with her well-known quote “sometimes Heaven is just a new pair of glasses.” Glennon Doyle calls it having new  "perspectacles".

They’re both talking about that moment when you make a choice. When you…

Take a step back and look at the situation differently.

Here’s what got me thinking about this again...

not just burned out
but, broken too

Defying any sort of statistical odds, both the lights over the stove burned out. No real tragedy, but cooking in the dark can be a bit of a challenge.  I know, I know, it’s definitely a “first-world problem”!

It was then suggested that I go to town to purchase replacements.

A long, loud sigh escaped my lips. I really didn’t want to make a trip all the way to town for two teeny, tiny lightbulbs. What an what seems to be a never-ending string of annoyances, trials and tribulations. Nothing ever seems to go according to plan! It would mess up my schedule for the entire day.

Then, it occurred to me.

While the trip to town wasn’t a complete necessity, it would make my life so much simpler to have light. Cooking in the darkness for days and days didn’t sound like fun. No one was forcing me. It was ultimately my choice to go. If taking an unexpected road-trip was my biggest problem of the day...things really couldn’t be so bad.


I could be grateful for the ability to even go to town. I have the health, the vehicle and the gasoline to get there. I have a Lowe’s card that gives me 5% off my purchases. And, they actually have replacement lightbulbs, it wasn’t like we needed to buy a whole new appliance. To say nothing of the fact that I have a home that is equipped with said microwave. And, plenty of food...

Well, now...this is looking better all the time.

I can’t do anything about the mess the world, particularly our country, is in right now. You do not have to look for bad news, it just pours forth from every outlet. There is no escaping it. People everywhere are growing weary and worn. As a matter of fact, there seem to be countless articles about how many people are stressed out, worried or completely freaking out over world events.

This is not to say that we can truly escape all the awful news or gloss over the injustices and evil in the world. Nor should we try. I have no idea if it is possible to apply gratitude to current events…

But, maybe in my little corner I can choose to see the good stuff. Maybe by cultivating my own attitude of gratitude, I will change my own perspective. A change for the better. And, If I share this point of view, I might even get you to consider changing your perspective...if only for a moment. Enough small moments added together may affect some real and lasting difference.

It’s just a matter of taking a step back and SEEING what is there in front of us.

With grateful eyes.
view from kitchen window

I’ve done the whole #thankfulthursday thing looks like this was the first one.  And you really ought to read this one.

Sadly, I must admit that I didn’t stick with it...

But, I think it’s time to try it again. At least for the month of November.

See you next Thursday!

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