Cultivating gratitude

It’s easy to let events in your life become overwhelming. Sometimes it feels like everything is going wrong, but external events are never personal attacks by the universe. We have to learn to roll with it, teach ourselves to be whelmed.

Chastity: I know you can be overwhelmed, and you can be underwhelmed, but can you ever just be whelmed?
Bianca: I think you can in Europe.

10 Things I Hate About You, 1999

Maybe you read the gorgeous picture book ‘Fortunately’ by Remy Charlip when you were younger. The protagonist faces a preposterous series of fortunate and unfortunate events. For every lucky break, there is a hair-raising catch. While we might not face a hole-riddled parachute and tigers on a daily basis, we do deal with a litany of interruptions and inconveniences to our master schedule that we subconsciously label ‘good’ and ‘bad.’ We all do it – the trick is to find a way to turn unfortunately to fortunately. For instance, so far in 2017:

Unfortunately…the oven and stove broke simultaneously, with one hotplate surviving (but only at the highest setting) when both were crucial for feeding ten people daily. Fortunately, this led to an appreciation of boiled potatoes and the endless variety of summer salads.

Unfortunately…the pump gave up the ghost, so there was no running water for a week. Fortunately, filling buckets and carting water led to a renewed appreciation for the clean drinking water (usually) so readily available. Also, bathing outside in the dusk is a feeling unlike any other.

Unfortunately… after the pump was fixed, the hot water system imploded, and it was necessary for mushroom growing and maintaining overall family morale and hygiene. Fortunately, at least there was water. Cold showers were invigorating on hot summer days.

It’s only by cultivating gratitude every day that we can re-learn how to view the world around us. Let’s be whelmed. You don’t even have to go to Europe.

 

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