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gratitude when life sucks

This morning, like so many of you, I woke up to the news of the killings in Aurora, Colorado; and, like you, the news has hit me hard.  Events like this make absolutely no sense, and, for me, anyway, I’m left  with a sense of helplessness, of wondering what could drive someone to commit such a horrific act, of feeling like joy is an emotion that is incredibly fleeting and ephemeral.  And if I’m completely honest, I maybe even have a little irrational fear that I might never feel that emotion again.

And then, I realized that I owe you a post on gratitude. And how, exactly, does one feel gratitude in a time like this?

The short answer,  I think, is that one doesn’t.

I think it is not only normal, but necessary to reflect on issues like public safety, mental illness, gun control laws, how we talk to our kids about tragedy and all the other matters that bubble up when confronted with something like this.  I think events like this call for us all to determine if there’s anything we can do, collectively, to ensure that they never happen again.  And I also think that it’s good for us to sit with our sorrow and our disbelief — become even more sensitive to tragedy, more empathetic to those who have to endure it.  I think this is important.

Even with this, I’m reminded of the words of my friend Brené Brown, who once said that living a joyful life is not about living your life 24/7 in a happy state of mind.  She says, and I think she’s correct, that being happy all the time would be like living with a constant floodlight in your face — ultimately annoying and downright exhausting.  Instead, she says, living a joyful life is sort of similar to following the path along a string of twinkle lights — that really, a joyful life is simply a series of happy moments, and that the trick to living a joyful life is being grateful in the moment when you are experiencing a happy time; and then, when you’re experiencing a down time, or sadness or tragedy (the space between the first twinkle light and the next), you live in the present knowledge that the down time, too, shall pass, and another happy moment is sure to return.

So on this day, as we work through our shock and dismay, and we send strength and hope to the families affected by this tragedy, my wish is that tonight, we hug our families and friends a little tighter, and live in the present knowledge that with love, we will all get through this.

 

Heartfelt prayers to everyone affected by the tragedy in Aurora, Colorado.

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