There are so many internet memes about gratitude. “Wake up grateful.” “Count your blessings everyday.” “Gratitude changes everything.” I agree with these thoughts, but for me this is a skill that needs exercise just as much as strength training. Gratitude doesn’t come easily to me. I had the good fortune of being reminded about how great it is to have running water in my kitchen. Yes, you read that right – I’m grateful to have running water in my kitchen. There is construction going on in our house and one day we have water – the next day we don’t – then voilà; water again 2 days later. The first day we have water back, I am hyper-aware of how great it is to have running water in the kitchen. I feel the warm water on my hands and I rinse the dishes. I don’t have to walk the dishes to the bathroom to wash, rinse, and dry them. I freely cook and use as many pots and pans as I need to. I become grateful for ordinary plumbing.
The brain makes strange connections. When I thought about my gratitude for running water in my kitchen I again became grateful that I could walk. I spent 3 months in a wheelchair 14 years ago after being hit by a car. It took me 5 years to begin to feel somewhat “normal” again. Now, I make a point of taking at least 10,000 steps a day – walking – dancing – doing tai chi and Feldenkreis. I am aware of how lucky I am to be able to walk, to dance, to move on my own two feet, but somehow, the water issue – the loss and then restoration of plumbing inspires gratitude for gaining my ability to walk as well.
Do we need to have loss in order to appreciate what we have? Is it possible to walk through various scenarios and inspire our own gratitude without the ‘ole hammer trick?