Today’s post is about gratitude. It’s about a friend of mine who survived a massive stroke and is learning to live her life after what happened to her. It’s about a man in my husband’s running group who lost one of his arms yet perseveres and is living proof that you can do anything in this life, regardless of what happens to you. Mostly though, it’s about learning to be grateful in your own life.
I was reading through my news feed on Facebook today and I witnessed an encounter between two friends – the friend who had a stroke and a friend who did not. The one friend was talking about how difficult it was to style her new haircut while my friend who had the stroke commented, “You are lucky that you can put your own hair up.” It sort of made me stop in my tracks.
Now, I don’t think that the friend who was having hair troubles was communicating any type of ungratefulness (and I hope when they read this the true sentiment is taken away from what I am saying) but it was the power of my other friend’s words that really hit home for me. Complaining about a haircut that has gone funky is something we all do but when you stop and think about what my friend said, it’s true. We are lucky that we can do the things we can do. Damn lucky.
How many things do we complain about every single day that other people simply can not do, can not experience or can not have in their lives? Why is it that the posts that get the most comments are the posts where people are focused on negativity? What if we used our outlets for positivity instead of negativity?
I know that I am guilty of doing this too. I know that I’ve used Facebook and Twitter and my friends and family to complain at and to. I know that I’m quicker to jump on and comment back to someone who is negative than I am to someone who has given me positive feedback. I know that I forget sometimes all that I am able to do that others are not and I know that I take it for granted.
But I’m trying to get better at changing this in myself.
I am trying to get better at seeing all that I have around me to be grateful for and friends, like my friend who survived her stroke, are gentle reminders to do just that. When I wake up in the morning and I complain because I don’t want to have to get showered and dressed and go do errands or groceries, I remember that I am able to do these things. My feet hit the floor, I am able to walk to my closet, walk to my shower, shower and dress myself and I am able to go out to my car and drive where I need to go. These are privileges that I have in this life and I need to hold all of them with extreme gratitude.
When I look back on some of my friend’s recent triumphs, I am reminded about how all of the little things we do in life are just forgotten. They are just motions we do without really thinking about them. Making coffee, getting our mail, locking our doors… it’s really the little things that are so monumental to some but so insignificant to others. And it’s why we need to be grateful.
The man in my husband’s running club can, with only one arm, tie his shoes and my husband has said that watching him tie his shoes has reminded him that the small stuff is extremely important. People have the power to make others around them inspired when they choose to persevere through a situation that they are in. With this in mind, how can you do the same thing? How can you be inspiring to others?
My friend has taught me that it is the small things in life that are the most amazing. She has taught me to think before I complain – especially if it’s a complaint that is really small in comparison to what others are going through. She has also taught me to see the silver lining in everything versus dwell on the negatives. She may not even know how much she has affected my day-to-day life but she will now and she’ll know how grateful I am for her. She’ll know that what she has gone through isn’t in vain — that it is sincerely helping other people around her in ways that she may not even know.
I am going to make it my mission to practice gratitude every single day and stop complaining about the small stuff because it really is all small stuff.
What will you do, starting today, to begin to practice gratitude in your life?