Gratitude is an art of painting an adversity into a lovely picture. ~Kak Sri
Thanksgiving Day is nearly upon us. That splendid time of year when we gather with friends and family, stuff our bellies, and give thanks for all the blessings that have been bestowed upon us. Thanksgiving might just be one of the finest holidays of the year. There are no gift expectations or obligations. The holiday stretches into four long, blissful days of rest and relaxation. It heralds the excitement and anticipation of Christmas, Hanukah, and New Years celebrations. Thanksgiving as a holiday is pared down to its simplest form when food, loved ones, and gratitude take center stage.
Thanksgiving provides an easy opportunity to express thanks and gratitude. It gives us a chance to pause, quietly take note of our blessings, and fully appreciate all that we have around us. But sometimes, if we aren’t careful, gratitude can morph from appreciation into smugness. A simple “I’m thankful for…” turns into “Look at me and my fabulous life.” To me, genuine gratitude means that we are not only thankful for our blessings, but also our struggles. That we can appreciate our successes, as well as our failures. That we are thankful for not just the good things in our life, but that we are thankful for the crap we deal with as well. Because in every struggle and challenge, there is a tiny gem of hope; there is sliver of resiliency; there is a hardy nugget of truth.
Don’t get me wrong, bad things happen and we don’t have to be happy about it. I am not saying that I’m thankful for the challenges themselves or the shitty bad luck, but I am thankful for the things I have learned from these situations. So here is a list of 5 not-so-obvious things – annoyances, adversities, and generally shitty bad luck – that I am thankful for:
- The fertility struggles that went along with conceiving my youngest son. I had suffered three previous miscarriages due to hormonal problems, so when we learned that my body was experiencing the same complications, his fate looked rather ominous as well. Fortunately, by the grace of God and with the help of swift medical intervention, the pregnancy survived and he is now a feisty two-year-old. Not only did those fertility struggles and multiple miscarriages give me empathy for others facing similar problems, but remembering the struggles that we went through to bring him into our family makes it that much easier to deal with his five-alarm tantrums.
- The relentless negotiating skills of my 6-year-old. Given that he has two passionate, argumentative lawyers for parents, it is no surprise that his negotiating skills are exceptionally strong for a child his age. Never one to back down from a fight and always with a keen eye for any possible loopholes, he constantly keeps me on my toes. His persistent debates – exhausting as they may be – continually teach me the importance of simple and firm answers, as well as the need for a strong rationale to support my position.
- The occasional spats that I have with my husband. Our disagreements, though not fun at the time, remind me that we are both strong-willed individuals with our own equally valid viewpoints. Our sporadic arguments help to open lines of communication, renew our appreciation for each other, and help us understand that our differences, for the most part, pertain to inconsequential things.
- Sibling rivalry and tantrums. Because nothing has taught me more about patience, psychology, and creative compromise than breaking up a fight over who gets to get in the car first or persuading a two-year-old to brush his teeth.
- Professional rejections because they make the successes that much sweeter.
What challenges, adversities, or shitty bad luck are you thankful for? Why?