I like to remind myself several times each day to be grateful. With so many things to be grateful for, sometimes I can't choose just one. Having said that, now I am grateful for having so many things to be grateful for!
I think the more gratitude you carry in your heart, the more happiness you manifest in your life. Sure, I have bad days just like everyone else, but I'm even grateful for them (usually in hindsight) and the contrast they provide, making my good days seem that much better.
I've often been accused of being "awfully chipper" or "way too happy," and I try to explain that I'm generally just happy to wake up alive each morning, and go to bed alive each night.
I think this attitude stems from the misfortune of a lot of loss in my life, beginning with the death of my adored father, Willis Grover Nesbitt, in 1972. I was just a tot of six years old when he passed on, and I'm sure I didn't really understand what death meant at the time. I wasn't allowed to attend his funeral, due to the well-meant decisions of my surviving family.
In hindsight, I think they made a mistake there, but I know they wanted to protect me from the harsh reality of his loss as best they could. I think I missed out on the natural grieving process, but I was sadly afforded many other opportunities to learn that as my life went on.
My brother Willie was diagnosed in 1987, at age 28, with a glioblastoma multiforme stage four brain tumor. Willie had always been my big, tough big brother, and his illness soon changed the big, tough part. His doctors gave him a dim prognosis, with three to six months to live.
Willie was tough, and tenacious and he lived for 18 months more, passing away at home with his family present at age 30.
I had never seen my scrappy Irish mom display any weakness before, but the loss of her eldest boy really threw her into a tailspin. She was never the same after Willie died, and succumbed to cancer of the lung herself in 1991.
Following our mom into the Great Mystery was my brother Andy just a few short years later. I, myself, was diagnosed the year after Mom's death with a benign, but potentially damaging, brain tumor. It was caught early, I was lucky enough to have great health insurance, and its removal was relatively uneventful.
My sisters Barb, Judy and I are all that remain of our original family of seven. I cannot speak for my sisters, but loss, trial and tribulation for me transformed into a daily ritual of gratitude that gets me through and makes me smile.
Rather than dwell on what and who I don't have, I've learned that it feels so much better to focus on what and who I do have. I have a wonderful and worthy husband/best friend, three handsome and compassionate sons, two indescribably delicious grandchildren, daughters-in-law that I admire and love, extended family that I am delighted to be related to by marriage present or past, friends that fill my life with light and love and two cats (Zephyr and Meep) who remind me each day what it means to be unconditionally loved. OF COURSE I SMILE ALL THE TIME!
Try this: Each morning when you awake, think of two things for which you are grateful. It may be weird at first, but just try. After a week or two, add a few more things. Repeat until this becomes a habit and you will notice a difference in how content you feel, I promise.
Life is what you make it. While we haven't much control over how long our lives will be, we do have the power to affect how wide our lives become, how full they seem.
The more you fill yours with gratitude for what you have, the wider and wider it looks and feels. Maybe I'm just a sappy optimist with her head in the clouds, a romantic idealist with immature tendencies, but I gotta tell ya, the view from in here isn't too bad.
Thank you to all who fill my life, you know who you are and you know that I love you. Namaste,
Patti is a staff writer at Greene County Daily World, and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 812-847-4487.