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Being Grateful For The Bad Stuff

Turning anything into a smile is a key parenting superpower.

Turning anything into a smile is a key parenting superpower.

Tis the season to express our gratitude. Everyone on the staff here has been chiming in with the things we’re grateful for in our lives. Our kids have weighed in on the topic, too.

Mostly we’re grateful for the good stuff: our loved ones, our good health, luck in love and work and money. We’re grateful for our kids and our homes and our mom’s apple pie.

What about all the other stuff? The flat tire I had on my car yesterday, and the unexpectedly high utility bills and the full-tilt tantrums my three-year-old throws like clockwork every afternoon? Can we be grateful for the day to day grit that gets into the gears of our lives?

Yes. Not only can we be grateful for the hard parts of our days, it’s an essential parenting superpower. Right up there with being able to read a bedtime story in the dark with one hand on the fussy baby and the other quietly wiping up spilled milk from the floor.

Gretchen Rubin, author of the Happiness Project, ran a sweet essay today on her practice of turning complaints into pleasures. In essence, Rubin looks for the silver lining in anything that comes up in her day.

I’ve been doing this for years as a mom. Every August, my friends and I write out statements of gratitude every day; it’s a whole season to quietly notice and express the gifts our lives bring us. Invariably, somewhere in the course of the Gratitude Project, I have a bad day. Minor disasters befall me. I have to find ways to be grateful for them.

Here are some examples from my life at the moment:

  • I’m grateful that the tire on my car went flat in the driveway, and not on the highway.
  • I’m grateful for my daughter’s temerity and strong will, even when it’s me she’s defying.
  • I’m grateful that when the cats peed in my purse, the only thing they destroyed was my knitting.
  • I’m grateful that I had the resources to replace the yarn, and the good sense to toss it instead of trying hand-wash cat pee out of a ball of hand-dyed wool.
  • I’m grateful for the army of friend who help me fight off the winter blues with tea, cookies and warm hugs.

How do you turn your lemons into lemonade? What complaints can you turn around into moments of gratitude or pleasure?

Photo: dotbenjamin

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