Attitude of Gratitude
Then I received a call informing me that the biopsy done on my nose last week came back positive for Basal Cell Carcinoma.
Nothing like the news of skin cancer – on your face, no doubt – to put a damper on the mood. After I hung up the phone, I found it literally impossible to bring myself to sit at the computer to pour out authentic words of gratitude and thanks when the wind had just been knocked out of my sails. I felt instantly deflated.
I couldn’t possibly focus on the good in the middle of this hard moment.
So for the next couple hours I took a detour down self-pity road — Googling all I could about skin cancer and the upcoming MOHS procedure and plastic surgery I’ll soon be enduring. I started to let fear and panic set in as I stared at images of disfiguration and scaring. I got mad at myself for spending all these years basking in the sun and using tanning beds for the sake of glowing brown skin. What had I done?
My anger eventually turned into frustration as I began to replay the health struggles I’ve been through the last couple years. It was clear that my wallowing was quickly getting the best of me.
Eventually, my thoughts turned back to my writing and this message of gratitude. I was shocked at how quickly I went from a mindset of positivity and thankfulness to anger, fear and frustration.
Clearly, it’s easy to sit in gratitude or give thanks when you’re in the midst of happy times. When your health is good, you experience an evening of fun and laughter with friends, or your presentation at work goes well. Even after suffering through adversity, it’s easy to see the silver lining or appreciate the lessons that come of it once you’ve gone through it.
But what about when you’re in the middle of dark times? When you’ve just lost your job, your car won’t start, your relationship might be struggling, or you just received a not-so-good diagnosis. Is it really possible to focus on the good in these moments? This hard question was my lightbulb moment.
It’s during dark times that being grateful is most important.
Besides the documented physical and emotional benefits to having an attitude of gratitude, being thankful can be a vital coping strategy.
When you’ve been knocked down by life, gratitude can help you gain perspective and allow you to adjust your focus towards what you have rather than what you don’t have. It can shift your mindset from a place of despair to a place where you can better deal with the challenges before you. Gratitude is a great reminder of the blessings in your life.
Scripture tells us to be thankful IN all things, not FOR all things.
I dare you to try it. It’s amazing how noticeably different you begin to feel when you are truly grateful in the moment. Fear, stress and anxiety instantly vanish.
So friends, I’m taking this advice to heart. Today I’m sitting in peace and mindfulness and taking time to reflect on all the things in my life that are worth celebrating — even the hard stuff. Because it’s important to appreciate the good, the bad, AND the messy parts of life.
This morning I am appreciating the warmth and protection I have from the winter snow we received last night, my cozy slippers and a hot cup of coffee, and my two boys fighting in the other room. I’m grateful for a healthy heart, strong bones, the early detection of skin cancer, and the fact that it’s not life threatening. I know I will make it through this, and it too will make me stronger.
There is always something to be grateful for.
In the middle of whatever you’re facing today, my friend – whether it be happy or hard times – I hope you are able to succumb to a thankful heart and find gratitude in your circumstances. An attitude of gratitude really can do wonders for cultivating great joy and more peace in your life.
Many blessings to you and Happy Thanksgiving.
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