Many Thanksgiving dinners have been occasions for those around the table to share something they are grateful for on that day. But what if gratitude were so much a part of your life that you could cite an example of it anytime someone asked?
In my years of evolving myself into a functioning adult, I have had to face many challenges. I realized with each one that I could either give into it and let it drag me down into misery or I could figure out a way to work through it and come out ahead in one way or another. That didn’t mean there weren’t lasting reminders of the experience, but it did mean that I could turn it into an opportunity for growth.
When I was 18, my right foot was ripped off to the side in a car crash. In the months and years since then, I have learned to be grateful for that fateful night when I was in the wrong car at the wrong time. My dreams of being a singer and dancer on Broadway were crushed. But eventually my spirit rose above that tragic moment and I began to study metaphysics and spiritual teachings that helped me see the benefit of not pursuing an acting career. I became a Montessori teacher, with an incredible wealth of knowledge and experience that I can draw on and apply to this day. I used what I learned there to build a successful manufacturers’ sales agency. I use my understanding of process and how people actually learn in my coaching and mentoring. And when I stand up and feel the pain that is ever present in my patched up, slightly mobile right ankle, I can honestly say I am grateful for it. It led me down a path I couldn’t have imagined and serves me to this day.
In the same way, I find myself reviewing bits and pieces of my life and coming across what I perceived as a devastating moment from time to time. Instead of a stabbing pain of regret, I let my mind remember all the ways that situation benefited me. Divorces led me to new horizons and different sets of people that I could enjoy and learn from. Setbacks in business taught me valuable lessons that helped me not only grow my own business but gave me tools and wisdom to offer others as they build theirs.
Disastrous losses of money taught me what I really value: relationships and meaningful work. And by focusing on those, I rebuilt the losses and still find myself able to live in exactly the way I choose. The losses didn’t ruin me, they taught me what I needed to learn.
This pandemic is our great teacher. It is helping us all get down to the real nitty gritty: what is really important in life. What do we really need? How can we streamline our businesses and lives so that they keep moving and growing in spite of the danger lurking all around us? How can we set clear boundaries so that we can work and live either surrounded by what may seem like too much family or completely alone with limited contact outside of our homes?
This Thanksgiving I am saddened by the deaths and destruction wreaked by Covid-19, but I am also grateful for the opportunities that are being afforded by it. We are all in this together, and we can clearly see who gets that and who doesn’t. We give ourselves permission to isolate and stay safe. We are more in tune with our inner voices. We have more courage to live by our convictions and let those who disagree go their own way.
Isn’t that what freedom can mean? And can you find a way to be grateful for that?