Giving Thanks

Posted: November 27, 2015 in Uncategorized
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I usually try, a few times every year, to make a list of at least 25 things I’m grateful for.  It’s a good exercise to help us remember the really important things in life.  The things and people that sustain us, even when we may not be as mindful of them as we should. The past few years have been really tough, though; my attention has been pulled inward, trying to sort through the grief of many losses, deep depression brought about by repeated betrayals and confusing memories, and the general worries for an uncertain future.

But I decided to take some time on this day of thanksgiving to think about the one thing I am most grateful for in my life right this moment.  I’ve made a concerted effort in just the last couple of days to get back to living mindfully because I notice that it is then and only then when I find true peace and happiness.  And while I am so very thankful for my mom and the rest of my family, and for my cats ‘rissa and Silk, and wonderful friends, and so much more, I think I am most grateful today for all of the suffering I have endured.

Most people think of suffering in terms of major crises or traumatic events, but we all endure small amounts of suffering each day. Even if we lead a generally happy and content life, we may encounter disappointment when our expectations are not met, sadness when someone dies, or anger when things don’t go our way.  And of course, there are larger, more long-term issues that sometimes create more intense and chronic episodes of suffering: physical or emotional pain from chronic illness, living in abject poverty, or dealing with the aftermath of a catastrophic event are a few examples.

What I am discovering is that, for me, the suffering – as intense and unending as it has seemed at times – has been a necessary part of this journey and that there are a few things I can do along the way to ease its grip.  But that always I should be thankful for the gifts it has given me, for it has made me a person who is wiser, kinder, more understanding, more patient, and with greater empathy and compassion than before.

  1. clpauwels says:

    You are much stronger than I to be so equanimous. Yes, suffering is inevitable (and I have my share), but while I can be accepting of it, I have yet to reach the stage of being thankful.

    All the best to you –

  2. Thank you so much, Diane, for this post, and for sharing your humanity. I am grateful.

  3. debaumer says:

    I truly believe, Cyndi, at least some of us have to be at the point where there is no more “bottom” to be able to see their suffering in gratitude. For me, it has been transformative. It is still transformative. Just when I think I can no longer go on, there is a deep spark of insight about life that I doubt I ever would have had if I had not touched that darkness.

    • clpauwels says:

      I’m glad you’ve found a way to go on; we each have our motivations. I’ve been to the bottom (depression, etc.) many times, and continue the struggle out of obligation to others, not gratitude.


      • debaumer says:

        Yeah, I get that. Been there as well. Took an enormously long time to get here. Never even imagined there was this “gratitude” place. Peace and metta to you, friend.

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