I was speaking to a friend the other day about gratitude. I was having a moment when I was appreciating how amazing it is to be able to see. I have many moments like this. My friend turned to me and said, ‘you shouldn’t feel lucky to be able to see, that’s not luck, that’s a basic bodily function.’ I asked him whether he had ever felt thankful for his senses and he said he hadn’t. I guess it’s maybe hard to feel lucky and grateful for such simple things in life when you’ve never really suffered a loss of them. They always say, ‘you don’t know what you’ve got until it’s gone’ and those that have healthy bodies maybe don’t feel thankful as that’s what they’ve always had…healthy bodies; healthy bodies that can do can do pretty much anything you want them to do. I on the other hand, no longer have a healthy body; I am incredibly poorly and I wish that when I was well I had appreciated everything my body was able to do. Although my illness is so difficult to live with, I have gained an entirely new perspective and appreciation for life. I now have gratitude for the simplest things. For my breath. For my sight. For my ability to move my legs. For my ability to every once in a while go out for lunch. For fresh air. For my wonderful family and friends.
When I first became ill, I found it incredibly hard to be grateful or thankful when I saw those around me living normal and fulfilling lives whilst my life, thanks to incredibly frustrating health conditions, had been put on hold. I remember going to the beach one day with my Mum and Dad, watching couples walking hand-in-hand along the sand, kids building sandcastles with their friends, and girls and guys my age surfing, and thinking they were the luckiest people in the world. I couldn’t stop crying. I felt so incredibly poorly and watching everyone else enjoying life made me feel so low and envious. However, after dealing with my illness for some time, I started to see things slightly differently. I no longer felt resentment and I began to feel like the lucky one when I was able to get out once a week for some fresh air in my wheelchair, when I was able to have a short phone conversation with a friend, when I was able to make my own dinner. Because I can’t do those things regularly, I appreciate them so much when I can. I wore make up on Saturday for the first time in about 8 months and even though putting it on made me feel sick and I could feel a migraine coming on, it was so lovely to feel more like me again!
I have learnt that there are always things we can be thankful for – whilst I may not have the healthy working body I so long for, there are so many little blessings to be found in everyday! Gratitude shifts your focus from what your life lacks to the abundance that is already present. Im not going to lie, I don’t feel thankful all of the time…there are still times when I feel incredibly frustrated and upset about my situation but I know the way I feel in those moments is only temporary. I know that I will return to that inner sense of gratitude and contentment again. This shift in perspective has made me feel happier and has reduced a lot of stress.
In the new year I am going to start a gratitude diary where I will track my blessings on a daily basis. Even on the worst days, small things are worth giving thanks for 🙂