Life can seem complicated sometimes. Because it is. There are responsibilities and deadlines. Work is demanding. Home life is demanding. There are never enough hours in the day — or the night for that matter. Sleep deprivation is real. The threat of COVID-19 is real.
For more than a year, we have been social distancing and masking up and staying home and often alone and calling that our new life. Our new normal.
I’ve had my share of pain and suffering in the past six months. At times, I’ve been a full-blown pity party. I’ll readily acknowledge that fact.
But after going through it all, I’ve decided to focus on gratitude. We all have things to be grateful for, even in our darkest hours. A matching pair of socks. The sunrise or sunset. Puppy breath. There is always something good in every day, even if it is the tiniest and most inconsequential of good, or not so good.
I had a eureka this morning, when contemplating gratitude and what I had to be thankful for.
It came to me like a swoosh (although not of the Nike variety). It swooshed upon me like the wind or the sunshine. It whispered in my ear while shouting to my heart. The whole idea was obvious but had been elusive to me.
I’ve embraced gratitude my whole life. I’ve been a proponent. But I didn’t get it. Until now. Ready? Because this is big.
Gratitude isn’t just for the good times. Or even the mini good times. Or for the good times, at all.
When gratitude is most important, most crucial, most valuable — is during the tough times. During hardships. When things don’t go our way. When we want to cry. Heck, when we want to wail, because our hour, our day, our month, our life feels just that bad.
It’s exactly then where the really huge life lessons come in. That’s when we have the opportunity to grow astronomically. It’s when we have the opportunity to literally blow our own minds.
I’ve experienced a few of these “mind blows” in the last few weeks. Coming to a realization of something so obvious yet so elusive rocks your world and is nothing short of astounding.
I’ve been trying to sell my house, but that hasn’t happened with the swiftness I’d hoped. I’m grateful for this.
It’s taught me flexibility. It’s given me a new outlook on priorities, not to mention control (or lack thereof). It’s made me re-evaluate the togetherness of my family. It’s beckoned my creativity. It’s helped me understand the importance of living in the moment. It’s given me the opportunity to decide how I’m going to perceive this situation.
I choose gratitude.
Six months ago, I lost my husband of 33 years. How do you find gratitude in that? With effort. Sometimes with great effort. But you can find a way. I have found a way.
He loved me truly, madly, deeply, and those feelings were reciprocated on my end. We never questioned that. We still love each other; that will never end. I feel him every day. He is close. He is waiting for me. We experienced a love of lifetimes. Most people don’t get that privilege, but we did. We are soulmates; I have absolutely no doubt about that. He is happy and in a wonderful place; I have no doubt about that, either.
My husband not being here, physically, is a great loss for sure. And I could sink deep into it. It’s tempting, sometimes. But no one wins with that outcome. Certainly not me.
My husband may no longer be here physically, but gratitude brings him closer. I can feel it. I can feel him. We are just apart for now, for the moment. And that moment is brief when compared to a love that is eternal. I choose gratitude for all that we had and all that we still have.
Life isn’t always easy. It often isn’t easy. We all have hardships and pain and days when the sky is dark and up seems down and down seems up. When you find yourself downtrodden and feeling low, remember you aren’t alone. We all struggle. And we all have a choice in the face of adversity — we choose how we perceive and respond to our own situation. I humbly ask you to consider gratitude as an option.
Dare to look up and see the sunshine and blue skies — even on the darkest of days.
With love and gratitude aimed your way.
Jill Pertler is an award-winning syndicated columnist, published playwright, author and member of the National Society of Newspaper Columnists. Don’t miss a slice; follow the Slices of Life page on Facebook.