A Few Thoughts on Gratitude

“We cannot change the cards we are dealt, just how we play the hand.

– Randy Pausch

These words came from this absolutely beautiful book I am reading called The Last Lecture, written by the late Carnegie Mellon Professor before losing his battle to Pancreatic cancer in 2008. I’ve probably written about this before, but I do think it bears repeating.

If you’re reading this, you have access to a computer. I can almost assume that you have a roof over your head, and food on your table. Some of us have a little more, some of us have a little less. Some of us are plagued with debts, while others are blessed to live more comfortably.

 Strife and struggle is a part of human life. We all have it, albeit to different degrees, but then again, we all have different capacities in dealing with stressful situations.

There is a tendency, especially with the capacity for self-indulgence that social media provides, to see ourselves as victims of our own circumstances. We wonder why so and so did this to us, or why we don’t have XYZ which came so easily to others we know. We wonder why some people are so lucky, and why we are so unlucky.

These thoughts are often human in passing, but linger too long and they become like a drug. It is very easy to give up our agency in a situation. While, we never ever have control of every factor in a situation, particularly our fellow human beings, we have 100% control over one component: our reaction.

It’s not always easy to resist. I have wallowed many times due to things I perceived to have been done to me. The fact is, I allowed myself to be in a position where those things were done to me, and in essence it is my fault too.

I could have put my foot down, I could have said no, but I didn’t.

I have been blessed or cursed (depending on which way you look at it) with a paranoia about time. I always feel that time is short.

What if I never finish that book I’m writing, or read certain things that I’m just trying to make time for, or go back to Italy, or finally get that flexibility in my hips – what if I waste my time being miserable about things and never pull myself out?

Time is running out. We are all too short on time to waste it holding grudges or being bitter. Shitty things happen to everyone, and no, not in equal measure. But if we allow ourselves to stay too long in self-pity, or anger, or feeling like we can never move on, we will waste the remaining minutes, days, months and years we have left.

By no means do I discount the need for time spent in grief or processing, or working towards forgiveness. It’s not something that you can flick a switch and change your mood or feelings about a situation or person.

But know this, that it’s something you have to work towards – all of us are grappling with our own situations in the ways we know how. But you have to work towards it, that is the only way you’ll ever find peace, otherwise you can end up wasting so much time in needless misery.

None of us know how much time we have left – we take our ongoing health and freedoms for granted. Your life, your circumstances are both a gift and a curse. Learn to focus on the former now, before it’s too late.


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