On gratitude

by tamarjacobson

Survival, being right where I am, busy and having meaningful work, flowers, walking.

These are some of what I have been writing about feeling grateful lately.

Two days remaining for the count down series I started at the beginning of this month, and I realize that feelings of gratitude have deepened for me more than in the past. It was not that I was glib about them before, rather it is that the feeling has become more profound. Indeed, I have always been thankful for kindness of strangers. For without them, I could not have felt deserving, or realized my self-worth. I believe, in my heart of hearts, that it was one of the aspects of my life that saved me from an emotionally abusive childhood. And so, I have known that gratitude is important for my sense of well-being, as well as for opening me up to trusting others. 

When I arrived in America a little over twenty five years ago, I was delighted to discover a holiday that celebrated being thankful. Indeed, the first Thanksgiving dinner I attended was filled with warmth, friendship and colorful foods. I marveled at, and cherished it all. But mostly I felt a surge of joy when we all sat around the table and spoke about something we were grateful for. 

Forgiveness has opened me up to gratitude. That is more complex than it sounds, because forgiveness becomes easier only when I allow myself to first acknowledge, feel, and, thus, validate my anger. This is really difficult for me to do, because I learned very early on to fear, or be ashamed about feeling angry. Shame was a driving force – a critical component of discipline in my earliest childhood. Forgiveness and gratitude opens me up to the humanity of others – indeed, to the human condition. For me, they are crucial in developing empathy and compassion. Understanding all this has taken years of therapy, reading, working with children, teachers and families, and from experiencing pain, as well as joy, in working through relationships with those closest and dearest to me.

If someone gives me the smallest gift, or remembers me without my reminding them, I am thankful. If I am acknowledged in the slightest way, or if someone makes a stand for me, I am thankful.

But mostly if someone just listens to me, and validates my feelings, I am overcome with gratitude.

A year ago at Mining Nuggets: Guilty pleasures