The midst of adversity is the hardest time to show gratitude, but is also the most important time to do so.
I was speaking with a neighbor the other day who was sharing some of the burdens she was carrying. I said to her, “Be grateful!” She looked at me like I had three heads. I forget that not everyone understands the power of gratitude and how it can completely transform your life. Especially during times of adversity.
“You can’t be fearful and grateful simultaneously.”
We’ve all been facing a lot of adversity lately with COVID-19, and some people have several layers of adversity that they are dealing with at any given time. I know all too well how challenging it can feel to step into a state of gratitude when your life is full of fear and uncertainty. Though it may seem counterintuitive, it is during these times, especially that we must practice gratitude. Gratitude is what immobilizes fear and lifts our hearts and spirits out from under our heavy burdens.
Years ago when I was diagnosed with stage 4 cancer and given just months to live, if someone had told me to feel grateful I honestly think I would have yelled obscenities at them. During that time, I was completely engaged with my dark emotions.
I would spend most nights lying in bed scared out of my fricking mind, as one would be when told they are dying in just a few short months. I felt so completely alone.
I couldn’t see past my illness. I was full of hopelessness and despair and certainly didn’t feel the need to be grateful about anything.
So what changed?
Well, I stumbled upon the work of Dr. Bernie Siegel, who I now treasure as a special friend. I couldn’t get enough of this man’s message. Every morning and evening I would listen to his meditation on cassette tape. His famous book, Love Medicine and Miracles had just been published but we couldn’t get it in Australia. When I flew to Mexico for treatment, I stayed In San Diego and couldn’t wait to get to a book store to buy Bernie’s book. Much of his message was and has always been about seeing the perfection in each moment of the day. Noticing the grace of God in everything and everyone.
Something about his message touched me deeply. I felt his words reverberate in the center of my very being. I KNEW that I KNEW this message was important. I knew that I needed to incorporate gratitude if I was going to survive.
Getting Started with Gratitude
If you are new to the practice of gratitude, you’ll notice it may not come easily to you. It didn’t to me at first. Even though I knew on a soul level that gratitude would be a key in transforming my health, my human ego just wasn’t having it a lot of the time. But that was okay. I was determined to do what I knew my heart and soul needed.
So I started small. When you are struggling with cancer, you’ll find that it’s not always easy to see all there is to be grateful for. But there is SO MUCH there, even in those dark moments.
For instance, when I would get up to get something from the kitchen, I would be grateful my legs worked. When I got food out of the fridge, I would be grateful there was food in there. If a song came on the radio I liked, I would be grateful to spend time with such lovely sounds.
With each day, I began to see more and more things to be grateful for. This was really interesting and exciting to me. I didn’t have to try as hard, they were just there.
I was grateful for the sun…
I was grateful for my beautiful dog who kept me company…
Grateful for a smile from a stranger…
Grateful for my imagination…
for the birds singing…
for the perfect cup of tea…
my sense of humor…
every new thing I was learning!
Each day I was able to see how much there was to be grateful for in my life and it seemed that each day I felt more and more joy.
And I didn’t have to force any of this. It simply happened once I began the practice.
It wasn’t long after this that my cancer went into remission. And if you don’t think that gratefulness had much to do with my healing, you are, respectfully, out of your mind!
I do not understand how God works nor do I understand exactly what happened inside my body when I started to feel profound gratefulness. I do know how I felt in this beautiful energy of gratefulness and undeniably this energy happened on the cellular level. Perhaps joyful cells want to live?
Begin to be Grateful TODAY
I cannot stress enough how important it is just to commit to the practice of gratefulness. No matter what is going on in your life, I PROMISE you there is always something to be grateful for.
The more you seek gratefulness, the more it finds you.
Here is something I am so grateful for right now. Beyond meeting and becoming friends with Dr. Bernie Siegel, we are now working on writing a book together! If you had told 20-something me that in the future she would not only have vibrant health but get to write a book with the man who helped save her life… she would have never believed it.
But it’s true and I am ecstatic and grateful for this opportunity to work with a man I deeply respect. Our book is being written with much love and I hope it can touch people and help them turn their life and health around, just like Bernie’s books and meditations did for me so many years ago.
I LOVE you, Bernie!
Something else I am grateful for? That we got to spend this time together today. Until next time lovely you!
Be grateful and watch what happens TODAY!