Grrr . . . ATTITUDE!
the quality of being thankful; readiness to show appreciation for and to return kindness.
"she expressed her gratitude to the committee for their support"
It is that time of year, Dear Hearts: The season of thankfulness and giving.
Although the word, gratitude, gets more than its share of buzz in our Western society - ad nauseum as we see and hear it everywhere: written in pretty script on decals one can stick on their wall or car window; plastered all over social media; it is even common within corporate logos or taglines - the word and concept dates back to at least the 1500’s.
We understand the term "good will" from Middle French gratitude (15c.); or directly from Medieval Latin gratitudinem (nominative gratitudo) "thankfulness," from Latin gratus "thankful, pleasing" (from suffixed form of PIE root gwere (2) "to favor"); meaning "thankfulness" is from 1560s.
Enough with the academics. You get the idea.
Most of us have found reasons to be thankful throughout the year; if not, we’re reminded on the annual Thanksgiving holiday to “count our blessings”. Some households even continue a tradition of turning down the sound to the broadcasted football game and take a moment to go around the table, giving each family member / guest a chance to express what they appreciate in their lives before diving into the Turkey, dressing, and pumpkin pie. Others participate in social media thirty day challenges, posting something for which they are thankful.
Although we all have struggles and challenges, most of us can rise above them and find something to be grateful for.
But Dear Hearts, what about those folks who are experiencing extreme emotional pain? You know . . .those who are going through a break-up, are homeless, just received a diagnosis of a fatal disease, are in severe financial crisis, or have lost a loved one? In short, the emotional pain in their lives is so strong at this point, they can barely get through the day much less reach down into the pit of their stomachs and feel grateful for anything.
You and I have been there. We know how crippling some news or crises can be. Try telling someone who has just lost the love of their life in a car accident to “at least be glad he / she died instantly with no suffering”. Even if it’s true and the comment comes from a place of good intention, there is little if any comfort provided; and comes across as unsympathetic, even arrogant.
The pain only produces an attitude of grrr. A Grrr . . .Attitude if you will. And you just want to respond to the world by clicking on that little red frownie-faced emoji.
I didn’t truly discover Gratitude - real down deep spiritual thankfulness, for everything, on a cellular level - until about fifteen years ago.
Sure, I appreciated relationships, income, material things. And since I was correctly brought up, I didn’t fail to say “thank you” for gifts, to service people, my boss, etc. I even come from the day when our mothers enforced the practice of writing thank you notes (I’m dating myself) to everyone who gave us a birthday or Christmas gift. Because I enjoyed writing, I never minded the task. However, because I didn’t mind it, my thank you notes lacked a certain heartfelt quality.
But a decade and a half ago, my beloved father’s health had rapidly deteriorated within a few months. During this time, some books and other materials had come my way with regard to the subject of Gratitude. I use a capital G at this point because the level of Gratefulness I learned to employ is on such a spiritual plane that I truly felt as though I was on Holy Ground.
Long story short, I learned that Gratitude is one of the great gifts we are given as humans. To be completely Grateful twenty four seven, three hundred sixty-five days per year is a game changer. Once I consciously decided to be completely Thankful for everything from the blue sky God created to my perceive aesthetic imperfections on the regular, I noticed that life was pretty good no matter what.
By the time my sweet father succumbed to his health issues and passed away, I found myself “Grateful in grief”. Complete Joy had arrived and took up permanent residence in my life.
But not without first facing my pain.
You see, Dear Hearts, pain is just as much a part of life and grief as acceptance and joy.
Pain, though, can be like a school yard bully. The only way to deal with it is to face it and stand up to it. And the way to do that is to sit with it.
Sit with that pain, stare it down, and let it know you’re not afraid of it.