Sunday, November 18, 2012

Feeling "Great"ful!

Recognizing the Blessings in Our Lives

Feeling Great and Being Grateful

As Thanksgiving approaches I would like to dedicate some time to thinking about all the blessings in my life. I am so grateful for all the good things both big as well as small that are in my life. I am also thankful for the place that I am currently in in my life. I am feeling great, I am pleased with my family and friends, I am content with my classes, I am proud of everything I have been able to accomplish within the last year and I am feeling "great"ful: both happy and thankful at the same time. 
This past year has been full of trials and I can't help but reflect back on my position and mindset at this exact time last year. A year ago I was exhausted, miserable, feeling alone, exceptionally sick, and preparing to enter treatment for my second time. I felt defeated and could not find a single thing in my life to be thankful for (except the fact that my teachers were beyond understanding and allowed me to take incompletes so that I would not have to withdraw from the classes so late into the semester.) I remember lugging my heavy things around campus, schlepping from location to location in order to meet with teachers, retelling my situation and saga to each individual in order to be granted a medical leave that would still permit me to complete my courses at a later date. While my life is not what I once idealized it would be I still can't believe the changes that have occurred since last November. These differences are directly linked to action I have taken but also could not have been made without the love, support, and willingness of my family and friends. They have gotten me through the rough moments. They have brought me back to life when my only desire was to sink into a dark hole. They have reminded me of how strong and capable I am. But most of all they have never let me forget what I have accomplished and how proud I should be of what I have been able to do. I have beat the odds because of my determination and diligence. I have fought- eating when I wasn't hungry, using my voice to get my needs met, maintaining a moderately healthy weight, jumping through hoops and over hurdles, working actively with my team, dedicating myself to my school work, building and strengthening friendship- and my efforts have paid off. This Thanksgiving I will be in my warm home, surrounded by my family, overwhelmed by love, sitting at a table filled with the proponents of a perfect Thanksgiving meal. This Thanksgiving I will enjoy stuffing and my aunt's famous apple pie. My Thanksgiving meal this year will not be a large cup of chocolate Ensure. 
It's not the "famous" one but it looks similar-
Knowing that this is the Thanksgiving that awaits me in only a few days stimulates my "great"ful feeling. Without my hard work and diligence this Thanksgiving would not be possible for me. I feel great- interested in my courses, enjoying time with my friends, having fun on the weekends, more than pleased with the grades I have achieved, thankful for my kitten, Milly, and content with my life in general. I don't think I could ask for much more. This time last year I never expected I could ever be feeling this way. And I am grateful that G-d has blessed me with the strength and motivation to endure the trials that I have encountered in my life. I am grateful for the love and support that I know is always at my access. And I am grateful that time does have the power to dull or heal wounds. This last year has been a time of healing and discovery for me. This period of time has enabled me to reach my current point and level of happiness. 

"At the end of the day, give up you worries and give thanks for the journey."

- Ben Vereen

These "lessons" aren't taught in school-
This past year, although filled with pain, sadness, anger, and disappointment, has taught me valuable lessons about myself and about life- lessons about the value of life, lessons about loss and death, lessons about mourning and healing, lessons about the power within, and lessons about the importance of love and happiness. I am grateful for these lessons because without them I don't know where I would be right now- emotionally or physically. Life is an experience, a journey of learning and discovery, a gift that continuously offers additional gifts and blessings. We so often focus on reaching the end goal that we neglect to see the beauty and value of the journey we are all taking. It is up to us to take some time, especially during the Holiday season but truly every day as well, to recognize the blessings that fill our lives and our lives meaning. During this time of year I can't help but recognize the blessings in my life and in doing so feel great and become grateful for all that I have been gifted. 

"Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. It turns what we have into enough, and more."

- Melody Beattie

We all have blessings and things to be thankful for in our life- a pregnancy, financial stability, caring friends, intelligence, loving pets, simple happiness- but it seems that we are always on the hunt for something more. Our constant searching distracts us from seeing all the greatness that we have already been given. We neglect to show gratitude for the things and people that enrich our lives. Only when we learn to see and appreciate the wonderful things that we have at the moment are we able to realize how blessed we truly are. When we recognize the blessings in our lives we are able to embrace what we have and feel contentment, even joy. We may still long for something more (it's human nature to desire bigger, better, and more) but this yearning should not prevent us from realizing that we have already been gifted so much. Think about the things and people in your life that bring you joy, think about your own intellect and strength, think about how much you have grown as person over the course of this past year, and feel "great"ful. We may long for more but we cannot deny that what we have in the present moment is worth being thankful for. Our lives can be fulfilling if we can truly feel thankful for what we have at this present moment and believe that, as Beattie said, it is more than enough. If we can feel great as we are right now and be grateful for everything we have in the present moment than we have found the key to finding happiness.

"Joy is what happens to us when we allow ourselves to recognize how good things really are."

- Marianne Williamson

We all have issues in our lives that we wish would disappear. Many of us wish we could turn back time and do things differently. We all have situations or circumstances that we wish we could change. We have all lost loved ones who we would like to bring back. And we all strive for a life that we believe is better than our own. I think back on my life and wish that my eating disorder never entered my life. I wish that I could turn back time and change the way situations unfolded, alter things that I did, and prevent misfortunes from occurring. I wish that I graduated on time. I wish that I handled friendships differently. I wish I could take back things that I said or did to other people. I wish I never went into treatment to begin. I wish for a great deal of things. But all of these wishes can never be granted. It is impossibility because we cannot reverse time and we cannot change situations that are not in our control. The only thing we can do is look at our lives as they are right now and admit that things really are pretty good. As Williamson says, when we let ourselves "recognize how good things really are" then we are able to feel the happiness that we yearn for. 
So before you sit down at your dining room table this Thanksgiving think about your life. Think about the people that are in it. Think about everything you care about. Think about all you have accomplished and how far you have come. Think about all the blessings that enrich your life. And be "great"ful: thankful and happy. Our lives may not be perfect but no one's life is. All we can do is look around at the fabulous things in our lives that we are grateful for and enable us to feel great. If we stop searching, comparing, and longing we will have more time to recognize the blessings in our lives and discover the happiness that comes with appreciating everything that we already possess.

Lets spend this holiday week feeling "great"ful for all we have and all we are-