Or or And?
Life is not about “or”—it is about “and.” It is magical and messy. It is heartwarming and heartbreaking. It is delight and disappointment. Grace and grief. Exquisite and excruciating, often at the same time.
Kristi Nelson is the Executive Director of A Network for Grateful Living and the author of Wake Up Grateful: The Transformative Practice of Taking Nothing for Granted. Both are wonderful resources to explore and return to often.
These words resonate so deeply with me, and the last five especially so. I started practicing gratitude over 25 years ago, to quell the insistent self-pity that wanted me to drink again, or at least feel some relief from workaholic mode. It evolved into what I now refer to as living gratefully, a sense of gratefulness. It’s more of a mindset than a single practice. But the practices strengthen the mindset, the life perspective I try to bring to each day. Gratitude can come and go. Gratefulness stays, through thick and thin.
The default of self-pity and ongoing unworthiness have evolved to a default of being present to experience this moment. Some moments are indeed messy, heartbreaking, grief-stricken, disappointing, and excruciating. And some are magical, heartwarming, delightful, grace-filled, and exquisite. Some are a divinely-coordinated mix. Many moments are mundane and run-of-the-mill. Paying attention and being more present for them all is one of the greatest gifts I can give myself. I never do it perfectly, but I don’t let that slow me down. I keep trying.
Contrary to what our consumer-driven society touts and sells, life can’t always bring us happiness, ease, comfort, victory. Strength has a place, but so does vulnerability. The whole range of human emotions are what give our lives depth and sustenance. Our physical, mental, and spiritual aspects complement our emotions and together they keep us well. Or we get sick in the denial and lack of acceptance.
And in times when we are not well, whether in mind, body, heart, and/or soul; mindfulness and gratefulness can restore us to more health and peace sooner. I don’t just say that. I have lived it many times over, in both minor and significant life circumstances.
Pay attention today. Tap into that beautiful person within you. Consider some of the most memorable moments in your life thus far. They probably hold some combination of magical and messy, heartwarming and heartbreaking. I know mine do. And they hold the keys to continued transformation and richer understanding. Onward!