Cindie Chavez – ©2018
Is it possible to be thankful for every single thing? And why would we want to anyway, considering how many terrible things happen?
I’ve been asking myself these questions as Thanksgiving is upon us here in the U.S. and social media feeds are filled with “I’m grateful for…” sentiments.
Topping the list this year are the usual suspects – love, family, friends, pets, health, coffee, trees, beauty, art, music.
But how about the other stuff?
The stuff that doesn’t make “the list”.
Things like that awful cold you had last month. The flat tire. The major car repairs that happened at a most inopportune time. (Is there ever a good time to have your car break down?)
The relationship that ended. Badly.
The boss that didn’t appreciate your amazing contribution.
The relatives that disagree with your politics.
The ______. (Feel free to fill in the blank with whatever crappy rotten thing you want).
You know, THAT stuff.
Is it possible to be thankful for the unwanted?
I believe there is, at least a way to be less ruffled about the unwanted.
However, a quick side note before I tell you how you can be thankful for the “other” stuff: – Let’s talk about the difference between gratitude and what I refer to as optimistic denial.
There may be things going on in your life that seriously suck. And some of them you have the power to change. Like tolerating a horrible job situation or staying in an abusive or unhappy relationship. Please for the sake of all that is right and beautiful, plan to get out of that place! Take a few steps towards a better experience. Stop with the forced smile and “everything is fine” bullshit. THAT is not gratitude. Telling yourself that you have it better than so many other people, so you “should” be thankful – IS NOT what I’m talking about here. Set some boundaries, create an escape plan, CHANGE something about your experience – be willing to let go of “what is” so you can have something better. Stop settling in to optimistic denial and calling it gratitude. Be willing to let it be better, be willing to create something better.
And then, be willing to figure out how the “other” stuff can benefit you, and the world.
Because regardless of how good your health, job, relationship, financial situation is – stuff, the unwanted “other” stuff, still happens. And I want to tell you how you can be thankful for the “other” stuff – the stuff that doesn’t easily make the gratitude list.
First, ask yourself, “What is the most valuable thing that happened because of this?”
This question is important because serendipity happens when we look for one thing and find something better. And to do this we must be willing to see the better thing.
Gratitude opens our mind and heart to “see” the goodness all around us, the sweetness of life eternally waiting to love us up.
So many things fall into the “other stuff” category right now. Day after day unwanted news fills our newsfeeds. Feeling thankful can be difficult when the cities you love are on fire, when people are missing and in danger, when mass shootings are commonplace when votes are suppressed, when our climate is changing catastrophically, when racism and misogyny are on full and open display.
It sometimes seems like every day is full to the brim of things that feel impossible to be thankful for.
But I’m reminded of the story about an old farmer living in medieval China who only owned one ailing horse. One day his only horse ran away. His neighbors said to him, “What bad luck!” And the farmer replied, “Good luck, bad luck, who knows?”
Several days later his sickly horse returned, bringing a dozen strong, healthy, wild horses with him. His neighbors exclaimed, “What wonderful luck!” And again, the farmer answered, “Good luck, bad luck, who knows?”
The following week the farmer’s only son was riding one of the wild horses and fell off the horse, and broke his leg, and again, the neighbors voiced their opinion of the terrible accident, “What awful luck!” And once again, the farmer replied, “Good luck, bad luck, who knows?”
A few days later the province went to war, every young able-bodied male being conscripted by the King’s army. The farmer’s son was excused from duty due to his broken leg, while the neighbor’s sons all went to war. The neighbors saw the farmer as having such good luck, but the farmer again answered, “Good luck, bad luck, who knows?”
I’m reminding myself that some of the best things in my life can be traced back to things that were in the “other” category. Unwanted, painful, discouraging, crappy things.
I’m reminding myself daily of the Hermetic principle of rhythm: Everything flows, out and in; Everything has its tides; All things rise and fall; The pendulum swing manifests in everything; The measure of the swing to the right is the measure of the swing to the left; Rhythm compensates.
I’m hopeful that the unwanted things we see unfolding on the world stage are the exact things that inspire us to rise up, do better, seek goodness, show compassion, have empathy, and be the change we want to see in the world.
So today, I’m choosing to be thankful for everything, even when I don’t understand how in the world it will ever make the list.
Because I know that somehow it eventually will.
More by Cindie:
Cindie Chavez is known as “The Love & Magic Coach”. She is the creator of MOONTREAT™ – and she has some great free stuff for you at her website: www.cindiechavez.com
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