“If you can’t be thankful for what you receive, be thankful for what you escape.” ~ unattributed, found in Little Gems of Wisdom by J.D. Kroft …
It is easy for us to notice the things we have received–especially those things that are tangible and of value. It is also easy for us to give attention to the things we have not received but perhaps hoped for—our goals, dreams, and ambitions. However, it is much harder for us to keep in mind all those things from which we have escaped–harmful things, hurtful things, difficult things that would burden have burdened our hearts and minds–and to feel a deep sense of gratitude that we have been spared such suffering, that those things have not been a part of our lives.
And although our problems may outweigh the thankfulness within our minds at times and we may have great difficulty feeling a sense of gratitude for what we have–especially when it seems like it is not quite enough–if we are able to keep in mind the difficulties and obstacles that we have escaped, and feel a sense of appreciation for having avoided their presence, we can increase the positive and reduce the influence that those problems can have on our hearts and minds and in our lives.
Anything and everything can be seen through the eyes of thankfulness; this is such a wonderful blessing as we can never have too much gratitude in our lives. And once we begin to see things around us through this lens, even the pains and suffering, the difficulties and hardships, begin to have a deeper meaning and hold powerful potential for growth in our lives. Several years ago I experienced a major ankle injury that made it very difficult for me to run. As a result, I gained a valuable perspective on being thankful for the health and abilities that I possess, and the things I am blessed with in my life. 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 and sound here on this Earth, are all things to be immensely thankful for, and I try to remember to be grateful for these things as I awake each morning.
Having gratitude for the blessings in our lives is always a wonderful thing; and feeling grateful for the things we have avoided is equally powerful and uplifting–the fire, tornado, hurricane, or earthquake that did not destroy our house, the illnesses that we have not had, the difficulties and losses that we have been spared. There is an abundant amount of gratitude wrapped up in these things, much like a gift, if we will simply allow them to enter into our hearts and minds each day.
Take a moment to reflect with gratitude on some of the hardship, adversity, and suffering you have escaped in your life recently.
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 what we deserve.” ~ unattributed, found in Celebrating Life – Moving Forward With Purpose by Tonya Merriweather Gipson