What I Am Grateful For

About a week ago I wrote in a newsletter that I was grateful for my daughter’s nightmares and I explained why. I then asked the readers to do me a favor. I’ve been trying to differentiate the newsletters by giving specific exercises that I think would be interesting. So after divulging my fetish on my daughter’s nightmares I asked the reader for one simple thing: tell me in a paragraph (or two or three) what you are most grateful for in life.

I didn’t know what to expect. I didn’t know what people , in general, were grateful for. I got 91 pages, single-spaced, of responses. Usually a paragraph. Sometimes just a sentence. One after another.

It’s fascinating to see what people are grateful for. To read through all of them and see what buried treasure people discovered when they dug in deep to uncover the resources that kept them going, that lit up the caverns inside on their darkest days. I felt like an archaeologist, scraping away the layers of centuries on a long-buried civilization. The civilization that is Planet Earth 2012, beaten down by a decade of Depression and depression, bust and crisis, war and unemployment, anxiety and fear.

Perhaps the thing that stood out most, that surprised me the most, is that as a group, we are most grateful for nothing more than human connection. The ability to love someone and have them love us back. The ability to touch someone. To have someone listen to us. A child, a friend, a colleague, a lover, anyone. And the reasons we are grateful for that special someone are all different.

But often there is the overlay of a crisis. Each crisis unique as a fingerprint. A tattoo of suffering that can only be fully seen when we shine  the light of gratitude on it, which transforms it from infectious horror to human connection to the reason we live and go on. And that in the end is what we are most grateful for as a group: today we are alive. Today we can go on another day.

Below I’ve posted the first 10 or so things people are grateful for. Then I provide the link to the rest. Please read through them. It’s not just a set of unique fingerprints of gratitude, but as a whole it’s the  imprint of our entire society and how we, as a group, get up off the floor, how we turn on the flashlight in the dark, how we inject life into what we do as opposed to just going through the motions like zombies.

Gratitude has been the one tool of survival for the entire human race. And please share your gratitude also in the comments below. What are you most grateful for.

Again, here is  the initial newsletter. And, please, my one request is that you add your own addition in the comments below: what are you grateful for today?

Here are the responses.I’ve kept them anonymous. Each one is divided by a few dashes.

 WHAT PEOPLE ARE GRATEFUL FOR: 

Failing to make the recent track and field Olympic team to London. I tore my groin 2 weeks before the Olympic trials and was devastated. This was my 3rd time trying to make the team after failing in 2008 and 2004. I was and am still beyond heart broken but if that didn’t happen I wouldn’t have been able to realize the terrible person that pursuit made me. I lied and cheated in relationships, broke hearts, neglected friends and family and even worse did all of that and more to myself.

I have become a whole new man in the last 2 months since my life completely fell apart. I lost the love of my life, my job and my dream……but I am grateful it all happened because it allowed that part of me to die and be born again a better man.

I can’t say great wife and kids, however they are pretty darn good, better than I deserve.  What I am grateful is my first born is still alive, and struggling with life.

See over a year ago he attempted suicide, gun shot wound to the head.  Shouldn’t have survived, but he did.  He is struggling with starting college (maybe), smoking too much pot, and not being in a happy place.  He has severe depression, and is/was incredibly bright.  Gifted in so many ways, that I am afraid it has been a burden for him.

So you ask, why am I grateful? Because he still has a chance, a chance to live and be happy.  All parents want that for their kids, most try real hard to give it to them.  But, until you see your son post brain surgery, tubes coming and going places only God and the doctors know, and understand; do you truly find how fragile and precious life is.

He is much better now, with a lot of healing to go.

Tonight he wants to quit school, move out and get a job. We are terrified for him, for us.

But he is 18, alive, and has a chance

Grateful for my wife Diane, She gave me a kidney.

Three years ago my wife had an affair. We’re still together but not the best of friends. She has never apologized, at least, never initiated an apology. Apologies have always been reactionary – in response to us discussing the affair. It is only discussed if I bring it up. Leaving me wondering if she was really sorry, or just sorry she got caught. So I had given up ever getting an apology initiated by her.

Last week she was backing up from a parking lot and so was another lady and they bumped each others’ back bumpers. The other lady was a real bitch, accusing my wife of doing it intentionally, telling my wife to shut up when she tried to explain she has enough trials already in life that it makes no sense to seek out even more like that, calling the police who simply said their was no apparent damage and it was a private parking lot, so no they wouldn’t issue a ticket which infuriated bitchy lady who believed she started backing up first so my wife should have deferred to her.  And then the zinger – she told my wife she should “clean the lipstick off her gross teeth”.  My wife does have somewhat crooked bottom teeth that we have not gotten fixed because of choosing to spend the money else-how.

As my wife recounts the whole story, she says that she hopes she is never a bitch like that lady, to very maliciously hurt someones feelings in such a way. She doesnt want to be that kind of person. And then she pauses and her voice cracks and she apologizes to me for the first time of her own initiative for all the hurt her betrayal had caused. We had not discussed the affair in any way for at least four months ( doesn’t mean I dont continue to feel the hurt of betrayel every now and then, but I’m learning I don’t have to bring it up every time).

I’m grateful for my wife’s crooked teeth, gratefully she had lipstick on them that day, and grateful she backed into a mean-spirited bitch, so that through a fairly harmless event, my wife felt a bit of hurt, which caused her to reflect on hurt she had caused me, and feel some empathy for the person on the other end of hurt she had caused. I’m grateful for the apology. It makes forgiveness easier. I’m grateful because the apology is helping me to abandon feelings of being the martyr sticking it out with someone I love desperately when the love doesn’t quite seem to be reciprocal, and so I harbor hidden resentments that affect how I treat her in subtle ways, creating walls between us.

So, in the same way you were glad for nightmares, I’m grateful for that mean bitch, and my wife’s small misfortune that day. It is helping bring us closer.

Right now, as I type, my 10-month-old only daughter is nursing at my chest.  I spent 90 days in the hospital before her premature birth.  My husband is not the biological father.  I had an affair, left him, and got pregnant.  Then I got left.  And my husband took me back.  He spent every day off work for 90 days commuting ten hours to the hospital and back, just to see me for a few hours…even though he was angry and hurt and not ‘really’ the father.

But he was there for our daughter’s difficult delivery.  He was there to help me recuperate and move back home and become a mom.  He has been there to protect and support me from family and mean people.  He has become the best dad our daughter could ever wish for.

He has been the first experience of unconditional love I have ever known.  And now we have an amazing, healthy baby girl together, which is just more unconditional love, from her and for her.

I am grateful for my husband and daughter: My husband’s forgiveness and willingness to start over; our daughter’s ability to unify and strengthen us.

This could have been a short answer: I am grateful for my husband.

But the story is where the depth of the amazing gratitude comes from.  Our history is dramatic and remarkable, and so is my love and gratitude for this partner who can love me, this daughter who is healthy, and this new chance at blissful, boring, domesticity.

I’m grateful for my daughter.  In 1985 I gave birth to her and immediately placed her for adoption.  I spent years wondering.  In 2009 I got a letter from her and we spent the next 15 months getting to know each other via email and an occasional phone call.  We finally met each other in 2010.  We haven’t talked or communicated since which breaks my heart all over again.  I guess she got what she needed and found her own closure.  I am ever so grateful that she found me, that I got to know her just a little bit, that I got to find out about her childhood, about her adoptive family, to see pictures of her growing up, to hear her life goals and aspirations.  I am grateful every day that I got to know her.

My wife is alive and healthy, eleven years after having cancer.

I am grateful for:

Ever since I can remember, nothing has ever worked out for me. So many wrong decisions. It seems like life has a way of yanking out the happiness from underneath your feet. And yet, in many ways, many things have worked out for me. I live in the United States. How lucky was that. The world is huge! I could have been born in a tribe for all I know. And also, in a way, I’m grateful for all the bad things that have happened to me as well. If not for them, I’d be an arrogant jerk.

My cousin died this weekend. From leukemia. She had had 2 stem cell transplants to try and save her life. I didn’t keep in touch with her, but our family is close. Close in how extended

families are connected when everyone grew up together in the same area. When all of the aunts, uncles, cousins, grandparents, great aunts, great uncles, even a great grandmother and her sisters were all still around.
It was like a small village of ourselves. I have only but good feelings and memories about that time.

I had a serious life threatening illness several years ago and I’m thankful that I’m alive. I had talented medical care. Although I have some lingering problems from it, I have high functioning good health in general.

Despite that my cousin… who was a daughter, a sister, and a mother lost her battle with a serious illness, and I did not, is not why I’m writing for what I’m especially grateful for today.

I spoke with my cousin’s mother and father, along with one of her brothers via video on Skype. My aunt, uncle and cousin were waiting for my dad, the rock star, the life of the party, to arrive for the wake and funeral to lift their spirits.

People I haven’t spoken to in years, let alone haven’t seen the face of for an even longer time, were endearingly calling me by my childhood name. Almost welcoming me home. Fondly telling me how much I look and sound like my father
(who might as well be Ra). It felt lovely that they noticed the good comparisons of me to him.

Girls are usually compared to their mothers. Even though my mother was beautiful, she sucked as a mother. They were all deeply saddened, decades ago, when she deceitfully convinced my father to move far away from them. To uproot from all of the devotion

and appreciation. From the support and admiration. She was running away from their pressure on her as a mother. Her emotionally neglectful ways had started. She hatched a plan of lies to escape. She was moving away from her family too but it
all still worked for her, as her sociopathic tendencies were just getting revved up. It did not work for me. Like my father, I was taken away from all of the love, support and cherished feelings of this family I was thriving on.

I am grateful for a lot of things in my life, but the special thing that I am grateful for today — I am grateful for this extended family. Who in the midst of their tremendous grief made me feel special. I was on Skype with them to offer my condolences,
but instead, they offered me their love and affection. After all of these years, I truly, and simply, was still treasured. After the call, I felt like I was floating in a warm sea of love, under a jealous sun.

Thank you for writing all that you do. I am grateful for that too. ;-)

 

Here’s one thing for which I am grateful for:

Ritual of thinking about 3 things I am grateful for

Just read your email, and it gave me chills thinking about it. As soon as I saw the word “Grateful”, an image of my mother popped up in front of my computer screen. I have very strong and emotional thoughts about my mom, and what she had been through and sacrificed for my my brothers and I growing up.

When I was 9 (Like I had mentioned to you in previous emails), my father was locked up for kidnapping. We went homeless for a few weeks, and my mom had to scramble to find some kind of income to support three boys and find a home. She went door to door in our farm town of 600 people, and asked if she could clean their homes. Now, she has 19 clients a week after starting in 1997. Just writing this now is getting me teary eyed. When my dad got out of prison in {1997-2008} He had nude photos of women, and dirty letters that my mom had found. When I came home, I saw her on the ground crying her eyes out. She had taken us to visit him every week for 10 years, and thats how it ended with him. I physically picked him up and threw him down the stairs. We had wasted 10 years. But, my mother was so strong she said something that changed me forever; “Alex, it is what it is, some people dont change– just move on”. Mom I love you so much. And James, thank you for your writing. Its changed the way I think not only as a business person, but as a human being as well. The daily practice is great. Thank you thank you.

PS- Here is the link of my dads story in Chicago Tribune when he kidnapped the man. I had watched the news one night with my mom in 1997, and saw my dad in handcuffs walking into a police car.

http://articles.chicagotribune.com/1998-10-14/news/9810140267_1_kidnapped-duct-tape-accused

 

I am grateful for the cheerfulness of my girlfriend.

What is really weird and almost uncomfortable for me is that I am responding to your post. This is the first time I have ever written anything or responded to anything on the internet. My guess is your seemingly unfailing complete honesty just appealed to me.

I have to tell you I went to bed the other night after reading your post about what you are grateful for. I came up with twenty items and then felt sad as I thought there has to be way more than that. I did thing of more but it is amazing what you forget you should be thankful for, there are so many things. Your post helped remind me there are so many. As human beings we tend to focus on the negative things, just watch the news, it sells.

You might be interested in how I found you. It was through your interview on Stansberry Radio. I found your interview and story very compelling and interesting. Being a middle aged engineer it is hard to remake yourself even if you want to. It also seems your  creative mind does not flow as well as when you are younger.

I am grateful that I have an attitude of gratitude. Keep up the good work; but don’t forget to take care of yourself so someone else won’t have to.

I’m grateful for my business partners and best friends. It’s amazing to share a dream and work together on making it real. Thanks for asking, and thanks for all the wonderful writing. It’s hard to find writers that inspire me to be more who I am. I really appreciate it.

I am grateful for my current girlfriend.  She is extraordinary for so many different reasons.  She has put up with my insecurities, jealousy, fears, and opened my eyes to the world of self improvement.  I am extremelygrateful that she has made me realize why past relationships haven’t worked out etc.  I am in the present moment with a girl who has never cheated, loves the shit out of me, yet I still can’t seem to overcome my insecurities.  I wanted to reach out to you during your Q&A and hope you can reply or give me some suggestions.  I know logically I’m worthy of love and have a ton to offer, but I get lost in the minute details of the day to day to relationships and its driving her crazy and I’m about to lose her if I can’t get a grip.  Any suggestions?  I am seeing a counselor, going to anger management and it’s opened me up to a world that I didn’t know existed.  I act this way because its the only way I know how based on my experiences, but they weren’t great experiences!  I need to somehow someway treat her better, like an equal, let her be herself, not control her etc.  Any books or suggestions?  Your articles help and I can go along reading, listening to audio books etc, but just one thing throws me back down to that dark place where I can’t help but use immature emotions.  She loves me for the real me, and my only flaw is my insecurities but its pushing her away and I want it to stop!!!

I am grateful that I am 55 years old and have never had an entire bad day in my life.  I do not think I need to add anything else.

Today, I’m grateful I’m working at home.  One day a week, I get to work at home. I don’t have to commute. I can work in my jammies all day if I want to. I can work with a lot less interruptions. The next day when I go into the office, most of the other people in my department are working at home, so that day back in the office is quieter.

i am grateful for finding someone that really cares for me. that really loves me, not what i can do for them, but me.

I am going through some really crazy changes now but I am grateful anyway. For the first time I am finding myself not making money in real estate and I just moved with my wife and my 10 year old daughter from a 4300 square foot home on 8 acres in a great area of Richmond Virginia. I am broke and stressing on what my new methods of income are going to be. I thought that I was building one of the greatest real estate family of websites and social networks in the world. But it seems that I keep running in to sabotage every where I turn. The last was the Google panda update and I am not sure that would be considered sabotage.

I am finding myself wanting to use all my integrity honesty and knowledge to really make a difference. I have been discovering like minded people at place like www.Ted.com . I feel like I am going through some kind of quickening and I have certainly done this often before.

I have other things to do just now. But I did want to take you up on your challenge. So I will send this now but I promise to share more of my story with you later if you have any interest for real.

First let me say that I admire you and i follow what post closely , I identify with you on some levels , although my life has been most an less financially successful due to my own weaknesses and not for lack of trying , as I am once more with a start up tech company . Now to the grateful part of the note . I am grateful I am alive and that I have the opportunity to rebuild my relationship with the greatest  single thing thats happened to me in my 50 years of life , My baby girl Arielle , she is now 19 , but i just came back from seeing her  Boston before she goes off to college, she is so great , i could not be more proud .
The regret i carried for some many years , i can let go of now . You see i left my happy marriage to her Mother in 1995 , when she 2 years old and for the next 17 years or so , i came in and out of her life . 17 years I spent being a drug addict , i held jobs , good ones too, I once reached to be  VP of a tech company, but most only lasted as long as i could hide my addiction to crack , during that span I tried to commit suicide 4  times or so ,I  was hospitalized more than 10 times , arrested 3 times and more .

So as you can guess i was not there for her , two years ago after another 3k binge , i decided to get away and fix me , decided that I messed up and was a bad person and I needed to become whole , i needed to stop blaming my pain for everything . I decided that i needed to put that crack pipe down forever , and i needed to do this for me , because I deserved to be happy , and being happy and whole would allow me to be the man that lurked inside me all those years. that i could be a true father to Arielle  , a true  friend, a good Brother and Son  and a good husband to someone .  I can say that today I don’t have much as far as money goes , just my tiny company that provides me with a living But I am a good father to my baby girl , I am good family member, I am
a true friend and a great husband ( work in progress) . I try to give to those who need , i feel i can breath now

I am the now the most grateful person i know , I thank the powers that be for everything in my life , I can not believe how lucky I am . I am grateful to life for allowing me the privilege of living . I am also grateful for  people like you that share your wisdom and insights so readily and open with others , you have in a way inspired me to not give up on unfulfilled potencial

I am grateful for the women in my life:

My wife, my mom, my mother-in-law, and my three daughters.  They have always been there for me and realize that they give my life meaning.

As for what I am grateful for, I would have to say that that it was getting stomach cancer 10 years ago. As strange as it may seem, that was the turning point in my life.

Prior to that, I was constantly depressed. I had no job, no girlfriend, and still living at home. My life was awful.

On an August night, I prayed to God and asked Him to make me care again. That I wanted to live and be successful in my life. I always felt that I had the brains and skills to be somebody, but my fears and lack of confidence imprisoned me in a life of mediocrity.

Then, on the last weekend of the next January, I felt a bump in my abdomen that was eventually diagnosed as a rare from of cancer. Gastro Intestinal Stromal Tumor was an aggressive form of cancer that usually killed you within two years and neither radiation or chemo could kill. While waiting for my surgery, I realized that my life was over. When I looked back at my 32 years, I suddenly realized that I had wasted my life. I was so afraid and insecure that I never did anything or took any chances. I had spent my life trying to be like other people and not true to what I wanted.

I felt scared and angry. All I wanted was a second chance to live and I knew that I wouldn’t make the same mistakes again. When you are faced with your own death, all of that crap about being afraid really melts away.

I had my operation and have been getting a CT scan once a year since then to make sure that the cancer doesn’t return. But the years since then have been the best years of my life. I have gotten married, have had two kids and am making more money than I ever did before. I also now really believe in myself and strive to accomplish the dreams that I have.

I am actually looking forward to growing old!

So, that is what I am grateful for. I am also grateful for finding writers like you, Seth Godin, Jonathan Fields and others who really inspire me.

I ‘m a big fan of Claudia and through her I read your book ” I was blind but now I see” great book by the way. I have been reading your blog for a while as well as Claudia’s and you both make me laugh,make me company and make me understand and believe more in life. So….thank you for that!!!.I love yoga so I am following very closely Claudia’s bog :).

I really loved your post about your daughter SO MUCH!, it’s very sweet and great practice what you are doing with her by making her aware of how grateful we all should be. I’ll start doing that myself when my kids have nightmares…:)

In general I am so grateful all the time, even for the smallest things that come to my life. But writing you this, I am grateful most of all for my 3 children, because they are healthy, they are good , they are smart and of top of all they are cute and in spite all my flaws they think I am the best Mom of the world and they give me their love unconditionally.

Hope you have a great day!

The one thing I am most grateful for is the look of excitement in my two children’s eyes. Especially when I return from being away from them for a while. Although I may not be the best father in the world, they sure make me feel like I am when their eyes light up like that.

I am grateful that Betty and Calvin Boggs adopted me 53 years ago when I was 3 weeks old. Nothing else comes close.

Thank you for your blog.

Kevin Boggs

I’m grateful that someone said yes.

an attitude of gratitude…i try to think about this a fair bit…especially when things seem to suck.  Got news from two friends today- one has a brain tumor that went in for a check up and ended up having brain surgery 24 hours later…the other just learned his brother was killed in Afghanistan.  Things can always be worse…though i don’t tend to think that way.

Right now…I’m listening to dave mathews on axs.tv, my wife is sleeping on the couch…with our dog, my oldest just turned 16, my 12 year old daughter made it back safely from newport beach and my 7 year old is passed out asleep…all is quiet in the house, peaceful and healthy.  And i actually got to work-out twice today…the sun was shining.

Now, before all that, and in between, there was quite a bit of chaos, and yelling, especially between my 16 and 7 year old, my worn out and tired 12 year old, and barking from the crazy dog.  But if you stop and take it in, it let’s you know you’re alive and doing well.

My son turned 16 this week…check this out.

Here’s how i learned about it all…I was in the Navy with the SEAL Teams at the time.

Compliments of the US Navy…a newborn. This is how I learned about my son being born while deployed with SEAL Team 8 on the USS Enterprise and running around Israel and the Middle East. His mom went into labor, broke her water and had to drive herself through 45 minutes of rush hour traffic to Portsmouth Naval Hospital. Where the Staff proceeded to make her walk down flights of stairs to get her medical record. Wheww, and I thought I was roughing it.

I posted this to my friends on FB earlier this week on the 21st…Now I have 5 hours to pack my stuff and get on a flight from LAX to Miami…hasta.  Love your writing.  Best, Beau

I am grateful that my 12 year old son can see.

In June of 2004, age 4½, he was admitted to the hospital complaining of blurry vision. Within 12 hours, he was blind. Flashlight in the eyes, no recognition – blind.

When the attending Physician described his MRI to my wife and me, she started to cry.

Whoa.

After a brief treatment with steroids, it resolved. And then a year later, it returned. Treatment, then gone again.

Fast forward 8 years, they have a name for it:

Acute Demyelinating Encephalomyelitis

aka

Acute Disseminated Encephalomyelitis

But no cause, no cure – only a treatment – an $892 interferon injection he takes, once per week, for the rest of his life.  If he stops the treatment – who knows?

I am grateful that my employer’s insurance sees fit to cover this treatment, at least through 2012.

I came across your blog by chance some months ago and have been subscribed to your newsletter since then. I always look forward to reading it and truely appreciate your honesty and generosity in sharing with us. It made me feel less frightened and alone to know I wasn’t so different from at least one other person. Thank you.

I am most grateful right now, and will be forevermore, for the fact that my daughter is still alive. She attempted suicide last year and I was the one to find her. She wasn’t breathing and had no pulse when I finally got her down but somehow – I’ll never know how – I managed to keep it together long enough to get her breathing again and get an ambulance. In the following weeks I almost had a breakdown but fought my way through it. It was the single most traumatic experience of my life but every time I look at my daughter or hug her or even just hear her come in the door at night I am filled with happiness.

My struggles. I’ve come to appreciate and almost welcome the difficult times in my life because of the growth that occurs. I look back at who I used to be and who I am now, and i see where I changed. Through the fires of tribulation I was reforged to be a better man. And I’m grateful to be better, every single day.

[To Continue Reading Responses of What People Are Grateful For, Please Click Here]

[Also, if you want, I have one small request: put what you are grateful for in the comments below. Thank you.]

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