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“Do not judge me by my successes, judge me by how many times I fell down and got back up again.” - Nelson Mandel
Genuine thankfulness is not simpering or fawning. It is not simply being positive or trying to control the outcome in life. Nor is it looking on the bright side of life and pretending that everything is wonderful. There is much in life that is not so good, is difficult challenging and sometimes seems evil.
Gratitude is, for me, about noticing, looking, seeing and appreciating other people and what is around me that is good or contains the potential for good. This may, of course, bring us to a sense of some things in our life not being quite right. Recognising the things in life we find hard to be grateful for may act as a catalyst for change. ‘There may be times in our life where much of it seems bleak and being grateful seems impossible to do. It is not about being grateful all the time or accepting what is unacceptable. I think true gratitude is about developing awareness of what is good and true and beautiful. It is not blind to what is ugly or difficult.
Developing a sense of thankfulness in the context of appreciation can lead to a sense of discernment. Someone who is good at a skill, whether it is painting or writing, fixing a car or turning wood will usually develop discernment in recognising other people with a similar skill and be able to spot those whose ability is genuine and whose is fake.
Today I reflect on Macrina Wiederkehr’s words, “Gratitude for the blessings of the day, compassion for the discouragement.”