“If you can’t be thankful for what you receive, be thankful for what you escape.
” – Unattributed
It is easy for me to pay attention to the things that I have, those things that I have received–or even those things that I wish and hope for, but have not received. It is much more difficult, however, to keep in mind all of the things that I have escaped–negative things that would have made my life much more difficult–and to actually feel gratitude that those things have not been a part of my life.
At times, our problems may outweigh our gratitude in our minds. During these times, it is not easy to feel a sense of gratitude for what we have, especially when it seems that we never have quite enough. But when those times come, as our unattributed author reminds us, it could be very beneficial for us to keep in mind those pitfalls and obstacles that have not come into our lives, and to feel thanks for having avoided their touch.
Several years ago I experienced a major ankle injury that has made it difficult for me to run. As a result I have gained a valuable perspective on being thankful for the things I have now. The experience has also helped me to be more thankful for the things I have escaped. The fact that I do still have my legs and arms that give me the mobility to get around easily, and my eyes and ears that provide me with a priceless view of the beauty here on this Earth, are all things to be immensely thankful for. When I eat, I try to be thankful that I still have my sense of taste, and that I am not experiencing any digestive tract disorders. When I awake in the morning, and open my eyes to see the world around me, I try to remember to be thankful for the gift of sight.
It should be a goal of ours to always be grateful for the things we have. Additionally, we should also strive to be grateful for the things that we have avoided. The fire, tornado, hurricane, or earthquake that has never destroyed our house, the illnesses that we have not had, the crises that have not visited us–there is an almost unlimited quantity of gratitude wrapped up in these things, if we only allow them into our minds for a short while each day.
Take a moment to reflect with gratitude on all the hardship, adversity, and suffering you have escaped in your life.
Questions to consider:
What kinds of things have not happened to you for which you can be grateful?
Why do we so rarely think about things that have not happened to us as things for which we should be thankful?
How might we remind ourselves of the things we have avoided?
For further thought:
“Even though we can’t have all we want, we ought to be thankful we don’t get all we deserve. ” – Unattributed