At the end of last week’s post on the JFK assassination, I promised we’d talk this week about finding joy again.
I expected it would be a post about the importance of grieving, the difficulty of moving into the pain and fully feeling it, so we can move into acceptance of the loss. I was going to write about how, indeed, Joy cometh in the morning.
I’d have mentioned how even Aristotle extolled the virtues of a good cry.
And I was going to end with this:
Crying clears away the sadness and creates a space for joy.
(I’m not the original author of this, and I’ve long ago lost who is. But I know that when I offer this in support for someone who needs to grieve, I’m usually met with gratitude.)
Crying also clears out elevated levels of manganese and lowers stress.
But I’m not going to write that post. Somehow, it just never came together.
Instead, I’m going to write a post about
*also known as gratitude
But thankfulness when all around you seems dark and dismal.
It’s easy to be thankful for the good things in our lives: good health, grandchildren that live close by, winning the lottery, a good job, or the nice weather. Who wouldn’t be thankful?
It’s feeling thankful, finding gratitude, in the dark and the dismal.
A few years ago, at a Thanksgiving feast, I was instructed to share one thing I was grateful for that day that no one else would probably mention. After some thought, I shared:
I am grateful for the 1968 race riots in Newark, New Jersey.
I was right. No one else had taken that one.
My daughter-in-law looked at me as though I had a light bulb missing. So, I explained:
You see, without that violent summer, my family would never have moved from our apartment just outside of Newark, to what was country back then. And, if we hadn’t moved, I’d not have met the father of my sons. And without meeting him, I wouldn’t have been sitting there that day, with them, thinking how grateful I was to have them in my life.
And I don’t mean to imply that the 1968 riots in Newark weren’t tragic. They were. In many ways.
But tragedy and gratitude are not mutually exclusive.
In fact, it’s in the face of tragedy, I believe, that gratitude becomes all the more important.
This holiday season, I hope you will remember gratitude
- when the turkey burns, or
- the guests are late to arrive, or
- the dog gets sick under the dining room table (just as everyone is sitting down).
Gratitude in a situation that might otherwise call for self-righteous (and totally understandable) expletives is an art. And, as with any artistic endeavor, it takes a bit of practice.
And practice, as we know, makes progress.
I’ll end with this goodie from Thich Nhat Hanh:
As long as we think our lives are not good enough [materially], we will not have happiness. As soon as we realize our lives are good enough, happiness immediately appears. That is the practice of contentment.
Happy Thanksgiving, everyone.