21) What are you thankful for?

In answer to the "Is the glass half empty...

What a fabulous topic!  Whoop!  Whoop!

The problem with this question is where to start?  It would be too easy to list everything I am thankful for, although I don’t think there would be enough space on my blog.   My list is endless.

Instead, I would like to take a little more thought about this, and consider what makes some people so thankful and others so lacking in thankfulness.  It could be the old glass half full or glass half empty scenario, or  the classic, are you an optimist or are you a pessimist question.  Do these personality traits play their roles in thankful appreciation?

We are all so individual, and why someone may find an experience a reason for celebration, another may find the exact opposite!  For arguments sake, if we just look at birthdays.  We all have them, and the more the merrier I say, but there are those who are delighted to be alive on, let’s say,  their fortieth birthday, whilst someone else may be devastated to be turning forty because they think it will make them feel so old.  It is all a matter of perspective.

When I was thirty-five I was diagnosed with breast cancer.  (I can’t  believe it, twenty years ago)   During my surgery and my various treatments, I was fortunate enough to meet the most amazing people.  My first contact was with a wonderful surgeon, Mr Knox.  At first he appeared quite brusque, but over time I felt a massive fondness for him.  He had an instinctive awareness of my fears and concerns and had a very reassuring presence.  He told me he was going to give me some important and life changing advise and I assumed it would be something to do with diet or exercise, but I was so wrong.  He told me  never to buy a newspaper again!  I was surprised and asked him why.  He said that  bad news sells newspapers, and that my life should be full of positivity and I must not allow negativity into my daily routine. He said that the world revolves around negativity and fear and he felt strongly that fear played a massive role in people’s recovery from serious illness. I have hardly ever bought a newspaper since!

I then met the wonderful and caring  Dr Hong.  She was in charge of my radiotherapy treatment.  She told me that she felt she was so honoured to work with cancer patients as they had taught her so much.  I asked her why and she told me that when people recover from cancer they never look at the world in the same way as they did before.  She felt that for those who recovered, having cancer was a real blessing!  At the time I must admit I found that hard to swallow, but she assured me that in the years to come, and she insisted there would be many of them, that I would look back and realise how lucky I was to have had cancer.

I do believe now that she was so right.  My whole outlook on life changed and I also became increasingly thankful for every blessing in my life.  I know that a huge shift took place within me and I desperately wanted others to feel the same.  The difficulty is that until you truly have a life threatening experience, you do somehow feel quite immortal and tend to take so much for granted.  When you have recovered from a life changing event even a previously insignificant and minor occurrence can fill you with appreciation and wonder.  Everything tends to take on a greater meaning.

I know that for me, my ambitions changed dramatically.  Suddenly so much I had worked so hard for, had strived towards, became inconsequential.  It caused many problems too, because at the time I was not surrounded by those who would share my new enthusiasm for a different way of life, away from the materialistic and career dominated existence of my past, towards a more meaningful, altruistic and spiritual pathway.

There are those of course who are almost born being thankful.  These, in my experience, tend to be happy bods, who bounce along in a happiness bubble and see and sense and feel so much to be thankful for.  Thankfully, pardon the pun, I have been the fortunate partner of one such soul for the past seven years.  He has never experienced anything majorly bad in his life but nevertheless, he is a thankful person.  He is always saying how wonderful everything is, how blessed he feels and how lucky we are.

However,  I also have a friend who has, in material terms, lived one of the luckiest lives I have known.  Is she thankful?  No, quite the opposite!  She is and always has been, stunningly attractive, very clever, very talented.  How sad, that whatever she does is not fulfilling, what she has is never enough, whatever she experiences is never good enough.  She takes several idyllic holidays a year and yet within weeks of her return is complaining that she needs another holiday!  She drives a brand new car and yet complains she cannot afford it – so why buy it???   Sorry, is that being unfairly critical? She has three wonderful children, she is so blessed, yet cannot see it and has such a negative outlook on life. I often wonder why.  To me it makes no sense.  Is there an answer?  Will she ever feel truly thankful for the many wonderful gifts in her life? I often feel  I would like to give her a bottle of spiritual tonic to open her awareness and for her to be able to see the wondrous world in which we live, to feel fulfilled by the simple things in life, to be content. To be totally honest sometimes I just feel like screaming at her … be thankful for goodness sake, but that’s not particularly spiritual of me, is it?

Is this taking me back to my soul choice questions all over again?  So much in my life seems to point me back to that, again and again.  Did I choose to have cancer to be able to experience life both before and after the massive shift I felt?  Did my husband choose a happy thankful personality for this lifetime, and did my friend choose a personality with such a pessimistic and ungrateful outlook?  Did they swap from their choices from their last lives? Do their choices enable others to grow and learn from them.  Funnily enough, whenever I have spent time with my unappreciative friend her negativity has the reverse effect on me and I always come home feeling so incredibly lucky and thankful for how much I have in my life.

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