For many of us, 2012 was a tough year. We may have lost a job we loved, a relationship, or even a loved one in death. As we age, our losses can seem overwhelming: vision, hearing, endurance, and even cognitive capacity begin to diminish. We may have had to stop driving or downsize.
But nobody wants to hear us whine – not even ourselves. The question is how to maintain – in our speaking and in our hearts — an attitude of gratitude when things go sour?
A remarkable article in the N.Y. Times last year caught my eye. I saved it. (www.nytimes.com/2011/11/22/science/a-serving-of-gratitude-brings-healthy-dividends.html ) The writer said “gratitude is linked to better health, sounder sleep, less anxiety and depression, higher long-term satisfaction with life, and kinder behavior toward others, including romantic partners.” Wow!
In addition to the positive suggestions in the article, here are my own thoughts for finding the jewel in the junk pile (or the blessing in the loss).
Begin by asking yourself, “What can I learn from this?” followed closely by “How can I bring something positive out of this?” For instance, “Can I become a ‘wounded healer’ to others who are suffering the same loss?” Many nonprofits have grown from recognizing an unmet need laid bare in personal tragedy. How we deal with our losses, once we’ve recovered from the shock, can become a source of hope to others. We can give thanks for that possibility.
Then examine what’s good about your life right now. A broken relationship opens a path to growth and change. To forgive or to apologize. To reflect on our own behavior or choices so we don’t repeat our mistakes. Losing a job may direct us to a new or neglected calling. Older people can mentor young people, and youth can learn by listening to grandparents’ stories. As long as we are breathing in and out we have the opportunity to create how we’ll be remembered. We can pray for others. Whatever our age, we can give and receive love.
Let’s begin 2013 with gratitude for life and the infinite possibilities of the present moment.
Happy New Year!