Eat your vegetables. Don’t cross your eyes, they’ll stay like that. Treat others how you want to be treated. If you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all. Be grateful for what you have.
These little pearls of wisdom were sprinkled so insidiously as I grew up that they became background music, hardly noticeable at all. But they in fact had a large impact on shaping my character.
Be grateful for what you have. That one, more than any other, changes lives. In fact I believe it saves lives.
When I was a kid it symbolized to me that I should stop asking for more and appreciate what I had. That since we were a family that lived on a budget, stretched the dollar, shopped with coupons and counted our pennies, I needed to be thankful for all that I had, large and small. And so I learned early on not to take things for granted. I learned to be grateful for each gift I received, and the simple things that my hard working parents provided for me and my two older siblings.
I became grateful for those lessons of gratitude, and acutely aware of how much I had taken my health for granted when, in my mid twenties, my life came to a dramatic halt as I found myself struggling to complete my nursing education and diagnosed with an autoimmune disease. My mobility and independence were threatened, and I suddenly, overnight, found myself spiralling down a path of intense, chronic pain, and a gloomy picture of my future.
But, somewhere tucked deep inside me were the lessons of gratitude. I reached in and pulled those out, and found myself feeling grateful for small things; sometimes it was pain relief from a hot bath in the morning before my nursing shift, sometimes it was for the injectable medication that was stopping the disease progression, or for the healthcare I benefitted from in Canada. But what I found was that the practice of gratitude built on itself, it snowballed, it lifted me from feeling helpless to feeling hopeful. Gratitude saved me.
“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
Now decades later, and another serious health diagnosis under my belt, the lesson of living with gratitude is the best gift I have ever been given, and the best gift I could ever give. When we are grateful for what we have, we find ourselves with more to be grateful for. Gratitude reciprocates.