“Gratitude is my life raft.” ~Alan Kaufman
I love this quote by Alan Kaufman, for indeed gratitude has also been my life raft for years and literally saved my life. I know this statement may sound dramatic to some of you, but after caring for a child with chronic health challenges for most of my adult life, this is my truth.
I came to understand the importance of gratitude as a practice, while supporting my daughter who was diagnosed with epilepsy at age two years old and then with chronic daily migraines as a teen.
This gift of gratitude, however, did not arrive neatly packaged as common sense on my doorstep. Instead I spent many early days of my two year old daughter’s diagnosis filled with grief, overwhelmed with the prospect of how her condition could limit her and her future, and searching for answers to why she was suffering.
The profound grief and sense of loss as a new parent was all encompassing and pervasive.
To add to my overwhelm, a few months after she was diagnosed I found out I was pregnant and had terrible morning sickness, and then six months after that my grandmother and father died within two weeks of each other.
To say that I was drowning in grief, overwhelm and exhaustion was no exaggeration.
Trying to find anything to feel grateful about during this time was indeed a challenge, but due to the incredible kindness of people in my life an opening was created for me to connect to a deep river of gratitude within.
Opening to my gratitude, I began to reframe the challenges I was experiencing as opportunities to learn and grow. I started to recognize so many blessings in my life, and deeply appreciate all the love and support so generously being given to me and my family.
Intentionally including gratitude into my daily life transformed my mindset completely and even allowed me to identify the blessings of being the parent of a child with a chronic health challenge.
This profound experience cultivated my belief that gratitude as a practice is the most simple but powerful choice you can make to transform your situation, your mindset and to nurture yourself.
I now believe that every difficult experience has a lesson to teach and when I view the challenges from this perspective, gratitude flows easily.
I have seen what a difference gratitude has made in my daughter’s life. She lived with chronic pain but remained optimistic, joyful, loving, radically hospitable, and takes nothing for granted through.
Gratitude has taught us both the importance of filling up our joy buckets and nurturing ourselves consistently. I love this reminder from Pir Vilayat Inayat Khan, “Don’t be concerned about being disloyal to your pain by being joyous.” One big lesson of parenting someone with a chronic health challenge is to embrace each day as a gift!
I love that gratitude refocuses us on what is worthwhile in our lives, deepens our experience of the good in this world and elevates the quality of our lives. Gratitude allows us to tap into joy, which fuels our motivation, enthusiasm, love, inspiration and creation of the life we want to live. Gratitude also helps us be more resilient and empowered.
- So what lessons have challenging times taught you?
- How can you cultivate gratitude in your daily life?
- What difference can being grateful make in your life?
May you embrace gratitude as a practice especially during challenging times and may you nurture peace in the world from the inside out!
Please share your comments below to inspire and encourage others. Thank you!
Sending you so much peace, love and gratitude,
Kelley Grimes, M.S.W.
Counselor, Author & Speaker
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