On Gratitude

In 1985, I almost died. I have asthma thanks to smoking in my youth (3 packs a day!). One night my lungs started closing up. As my wife took me to our family doctor, I noticed my fingers were turning blue. That good doctor saved my life that night.

This was training in gratitude. Ever since that night, I have been grateful for breathing. When I run and my lungs are open and clear, I remember that terrible night and I am grateful.

Alcoholics Anonymous makes much of gratitude, encouraging gratitude lists. And indeed gratitude is a great medicine for self-pity and for resentment. God being who He/She is, however, we don’t always see a gift when it’s coming. As someone once said, God always seems to have another custard pie up His/Her sleeve. And yet some custard pies — business setbacks, relationship disappointments, failures, even tragedies–end up opening unexpected doors.

My spiritual world will never be one of total acceptance. I fight and argue with the God of my understanding every step of the way. But I have also become aware that, when I pause and express gratitude, it calms my spirit.

So celebrate this Thanksgiving by pausing and creating your own gratitude list. Make sure to be thankful for the simple things — all that we tend to take for granted. Like breathing.

Reflections: 1. For what are you grateful? 2. What sad events in your life opened unexpected doors?

Further Reading: David Stendl-Rast Gratefulness: The Heart of Prayer

About richp45198

I am a clinical psychologist and have an abiding interest in matters spiritual.
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2 Responses to On Gratitude

  1. Becky says:

    1. I am grateful for parents who always loved me no matter how vile I behaved and very grateful to be married to someone who loves me no matter how vile I behave . . . 😉
    2. This isn’t the worst thing in the world, but one sad event that opened doors was when I lost an audition that would have otherwise sent me to play at Carnegie Hall. I was devastated, but it forced me to confront my issues with nerves and performing. I learned a lot from that situation.

  2. Roxanne says:

    I am grateful for the Al-Anon program. It was through this program that I learned about the power of gratitude. Gratitude for the simple things…such as the gift of sight, the ability to feed myself and so on. It is difficult to find gratitude in a broken home where loss is so prevalent. Expressing gratitude was difficult at the beginning of my spiritual journey, but today I know it is good medicine for the discontented soul.

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