***Warning This Article Is Not For The Squeamish or The Easily Grossed-Out!***
The Fearless Living institute is big on being grateful when we'd rather be complaining about something so that we'll open up a little more space to possibility, empowerment, and perhaps even happiness in a situation that we may find unpleasant.
Three days ago, I found myself in a detestable situation. Smack dab in the middle of the International Coach Federation's annual conference, I got food poisoning. I hate throwing up more than pretty much ANYTHING. Since I was 13, I could count on ONE hand how often I've thrown up-until three days ago, where I upped the count in 5 hours to all ten fingers and a number of toes. I was miserable.
Because this bout of food poisoning lasted for so many hours, and because I had no idea how long it would continue to last, I had to keep my mind occupied in some way. So, in between sweaty, tearful prayers to God to hurry this process up and heal my body and feverish moments of relief leaning against the tub or falling asleep on the cold, tile floor, I, at first, started asking questions like, “Why is this happening to me? Why is this happening right now? Are my friends mad that I've had to cancel my plans with them? Will my roommates hate me because I'm retching in the next room?"
Not exactly healing and empowering self-talk. And I was definitely in the need of some healing, or at the very least, some hope.
Then, at the strangest moment, I got some.
In the middle of getting sick for about the 6th time- my stomach was practically empty, yet my body was clearly trying to wring out every drop of poison from my body-using muscles I didn't even know I had to do the job. In the middle of it, jaw killing, capillaries bursting all over my face, me having some vague thought that if I heaved too hard, might I vault off the floor and drown in the toilet? In the middle of all of that, I found myself thinking, “God, I am SO grateful my body wants to heal me this much and I'm SO grateful it knows what to do to make that happen. "
This, from me who opted for Tylenol after surgery when the oxycodone my surgeon prescribed for me made me nauseous? I'm suddenly grateful I'm throwing up?
I was intrigued that my body seemed to know what it was doing and suddenly, the gratitudes started rushing in. Over the next couple of hours I noticed how supremely grateful I was for my toothbrush, for the sheet my roommate brought me to wrap up in, for my body somehow knowing it had more poison to get out of me. I was grateful for the running water in my bathroom and the momentary relief I'd feel after throwing up.
And if that wasn't enough, the most amazing thing happened. While clinging to the toilet, I began to think, “Hey, I wonder what good could come out of this whole situation? I wonder what God could have in mind that this might actually be a great thing that's happening to me?" Seriously, mid-retch I thought this!
My gratitudes helped me to actually find possibility even while I was puking my guts out. And by the time I was done getting sick (about 15 times in total), I was in a substantially more positive mood than I'd EVER been after getting sick. Not only that, my wondering what good could come of the whole thing actually put me into a much more open state of mind that allowed me to enjoy and make the most of the limited time I had left at the conference-even though I was too ill to go to any more meals or lectures.
Gratitudes and the habit of being grateful did that for me. I know that if I hadn't been training my mind over the years to be grateful even when I'm clearly not happy about a situation had paid off. If it could occur to me in the middle of getting sick to be grateful, then I had definitely made substantial inroads to my own ability to be empowered, happy, and open. That's not to say I enjoyed getting sick. I didn't enjoy it & I would have preferred to skip the whole exercise-but (here I go again!) I am grateful it happened because it showed me how deeply being grateful has become a part of who I am.
How about you? How automatic is gratitude for you? When you're slammed with something detestably negative, how long does it take for you to find something in it to be grateful for? Do you remember to do it? Do you have to force yourself to do it? Would you like it to be automatic?
Had today been a few years ago, I'd still be feeling sorry for myself that I missed a day and a half of the workshop and that I'd spent so much time getting to know the tiles on my bathroom floor. But instead, I'm seriously grateful for the experience. I wouldn't want to repeat it, of course, but I am actually looking back on it positively, sincerely surprised at the depth of my gratitude.
My wish for you is that you find it as automatic to be grateful as it turned out to be for me, if not more so.
This week, I challenge you: what are you grateful for?
(c) 2008 Rebecca P. Soulette
Life Coach, Rebecca Soulette, CFLC III, is a senior level coach certified through the Fearless Living Institute. She is an expert in helping her clients to live fulfilling and balanced lives packed full of inspiration, joy, and freedom. She offers FREE ecourses, resources, teleclasses, private 1:1 and group coaching. For more information or to sign up for her FREE email newsletter, check out http://www.RebeccaSoulette.com
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