I believe life is a privilege and should be lived as one. Attitude is everything, or so I’ve heard. Intention comes through attitude. Action is the result. Hmm… is that the appropriate path? This pathway can be adventurous. That is what I believed until I reflected on my shortcomings and on the profound influences that I had followed. These led me into bad circumstances and painful consequences. This doesn’t sound like an adventure. It sounds like the pits
Yet…. Here I am! Some years ago, I met this attitudinal challenge because I wanted to be forever thankful. Being thankful was an attitude I felt quite comfortable with as I am constantly looking ahead. In reflection of my past, being thankful was an attitude that was difficult to authenticate. I worked on it. I worked on it for a long time and I want to assure you… it can be accomplished.
Here are a few examples of how I came to this place of living life as a privilege and being forever thankful:
- I learned to grieve. I do not carry an imaginary backpack full of with emotional and psychological burdens. I understand that the unfairness of life includes suffering. Feeling and sharing are not all inclusive. There may be space between what I feel, what I do, what I think and what I believe. Sometimes I need to seek that space. We experience all kinds of losses. Some losses are commonly accepted as a loss by most people such as loved one’s death. Other’s losses may have different labels, and are still a loss because something ends.
- changing employment
- pursuing an opportunity or dream—the ending is “we can’t do everything”
- physical ailments which result in permanent limitations
- moving even when the move seems to be a perfect fit
- feeling the uneasiness of thinking differently than those in your group
Grief is naturally universal. It touches every part of us. The intensity of the grief is variable because it is unique to the loss. Learning to keep grief connected to my losses helps me make sense of my world. Each day is a new day, but this doesn’t necessarily mean that I feel good about it or that I think each day will be a good day. Yet I can appreciate the privilege of living with just the validation of waking up in the morning. I am okay with not being okay. I only share my current condition when appropriate. Other times I keep how I am feeling and my thoughts to myself. What I don’t do anymore is pretend I am not affected by grief. Emotional and psychological flexibility are both motivators and communicators, even when the communication is not in words. Grief speaks a special language that provides profound influential sustenance to life.
- 2. I learned to give back responsibilities. This has been life-changing for me. I give back responsibilities both in the past and present. This has helped me clarify the abuses and deception of my past and to gauge my desires for the future. Over the course of my life, I realized I have taken on responsibilities that should not have been mine. I was given tasks that were not age-appropriate as a child along with maladaptive favor that distorted and twisted expectations in adolescence and adulthood. I am now in a better place to give back responsibilities when they are presented rather than struggle with them.
In order to find forgiveness and thankfulness, I put myself through mental exercises of meandering through memories which are not appropriate to share. This psychological exercise allows me to determine my part and give back the responsibilities that were not mine. During this exercise, I was able to uncover understanding which no one else could offer me. In my case, many of the primary participants have died or are dead or have been out of my life for a long time. I am not here to start a blame game or wallow in the pain of the past. I am here to share that when I gave back the responsibilities of past, distinguished what has happened to me, and how it shaped me, then I could make sense of and find meaning in my story. I learned to individually mourn my losses which permits me to embrace solitude which delivers authenticity and replaces idealism. The result I am thankful.
- 3. My untold story is beneficial in a few ways. This story is educational, based on practical experience, filled with simplicity and wisdom. It is also intricate and interwoven in who I am. My story is a culmination of paradoxical happenings which I use to uncover ambiguities in my counseling practice. The importance of this story being widely told has lessened because the above undertaking has provided me a voice which has an exquisite purpose. I am forever thankful.
Attitude changes everything. Attitude is linked with a perception of life which is grown within each of us and it is not something that changes easily. Attitudinal changes require intentional personal work that includes both the past and the present. These types of change can be done individually and do not necessarily require people who are cheerleaders or dazzling professionals. These types of change take perseverance, tenacity and courage to pursue. In doing so, you have placed a lasting value on how you want to live life. Being forever thankful is a forever practice with bountiful returns.
“Thanksgiving is possible only for those who take time to remember; no one can give thanks who has a short memory.” Anonymous Author