I Have Learned to Be Grateful!

gratThroughout my journey of living with progressive Multiple Sclerosis, I have learned to be grateful.  There were times in the beginning when I felt lonely, broken and hopeless.  Through reading positive books and doing some soul searching I have come to realize that I have so much to be grateful for.  There are plenty of people on this planet suffering far worse plights than I am. I think of this every time I get the slightest bit down in the dumps.

One of Margaret M. Painter’s quotations which resonates with me is “I have learned to be grateful even when I feel sad, to think positively when I’m surrounded by negativity, to hold fast to faith even when I feel hopeless, to accept love even when I feel unloveable; because despite all the noise in my head that tells me my life is over, the sun shows up every morning and shines, reminding me that I can surely do the same.”

There are days, and many of them, when I wake up in the morning and my body tells me it’s going to be a day of struggle.  Its frustrating but allowing it to get the best of me is something I try my best to avoid.  Living the day in the basement…so to speak…..is harder than living the day on the main floor.  I focus on what I can do and not what I can’t.  I have the support of a wonderful hubby and for that I’m eternally grateful.

Gratitude is something I’ve written about before but it’s good to revisit it from time to time.  Writing about it is kind of like taking a refresher course on the topic.

Being diagnosed and then learning to deal with a chronic disease is a wake up call like no other.   You often here people say that it took being diagnosed with chronic illness to make them more aware of the beauty around them.  It’s true.  I’ve become hypersensitive to things I took for granted before I was diagnosed.  I wish I was never told I had MS but I can never reverse that.  In some respects I’m grateful for the diagnosis and happy with how it’s changed my perspective on life.

I’m definitely more empathetic with others who suffer from disease and disability.  I get it.  I understand what others are going through and the suffering they may be experiencing.  I understand what living with limitations is like and I can look at others in wheelchairs or using walkers and feel their grief.  I’m living with the grief too.  I’m just choosing to smile despite the loss and changes in my day to day abilities and way of life.

I’m more friendly and accepting of others despite their physical, social or economic levels.  I speak to everyone, not that everyone speaks back to me.  I feel ignored by some when I am on my scooter.  It’s like some healthy people don’t know how to take me when I speak to them.  But that’s okay.  I understand how I use to react to someone who was handicapped when I was healthy and strong.  It’s like those people feel sorry for me and don’t know how to react to me.  I still smile and do my best to be friendly and sociable.

I’m grateful for the good days.  There are days interspersed with my usual days where I feel different.  I feel more clarity, more energy, my legs are a little stronger and I seem to have more interest in doing things.  Those days stand out.  Before I was diagnosed with MS all of my days were the same old…same old.  We took our energy and clarity for granted.  Now, for me, those days are a blessing for which I’m grateful.   I pay attention on a daily basis for that energy and clarity and those few days I have it I’m “over the moon” joyful.  In fact those days stand out so much that I usually mention that I’m having a good energy day to my hubby.  He probably notices a good day for me too as I am obviously more engaged in little tasks or put a dinner on the table that night that required more time and energy to prepare.

I have embraced my illness.  It’s taken a while but I think I’ve finally come to terms with the cards I’ve been dealt.  The only way to live with chronic illness is to find the positive.  I’m grateful that I have been able to overcome the sadness and loss and have been able to build up a resilience and strength I did not know I had in me.  I’m a kinder person.  I’m a more caring person.  I have a more positive perspective on things.  I feel closer to my loved ones and my friends.  I don’t let complainers or negative people bring me down anymore.  I listen to them and inside I say….you have a lot to be grateful for.

My illness does not define who I am.  It is just something I have.  I’m still me….just me with more gratitude and empathy.

Joseph Campbell, philosopher, said “We must be willing to let go of the life we have planned, so as to accept the life that is waiting for us.”

In closing, remember this, GRATITUDE IS THE FOUNDATION FOR HAPPINESS.  I’m happy that I’ve learned to be grateful!





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