Freedom From Suffering with Dr. Steven Grinstead

Wishing You A Happy Gratitude Week – AKA Thanksgiving Week

November 23, 2016 by Dr. Steve Grinstead

Today being Gratitude Week (aka Thanksgiving Week) I wanted to cover my most favorite topic—gratitude. This year my big gratitude is being able to start a new Functional Restoration Chronic Pain Management Program - A Healing Place - The Estates in Camarillo California. Many years ago I learned the value of showing up as a contribution instead of a complaint. Please watch my video below and then read the remainder of this post.

When life gets rough many of us start complaining; at least I know I do. One day I was going on and on to a good friend of mine who, after listening for a while, asked me if I would be willing to make a list of all the things in my life I was grateful for instead of just complaining.

This was especially true for my chronic pain conditions. I was very surprised as I went through this exercise and had about 50 things I was grateful for. I thought it was a great list. My friend didn’t. He asked me to triple that list. At first I couldn’t understand how I could find that many things to be grateful for, but with his support and coaching I finally did it.

I was amazed that the problems I had been complaining about no longer seemed so bad. He even gave me a bumper sticker that said “Attitude of Gratitude.” That really helped me make peace with my pain and even at times be grateful for my pain—and no I’m not a masochist.

Because it’s Gratitude Week, I want to share with you my Attitude of Gratitude mission. For the past 36 years the word gratitude has taken on a different meaning than it had for me up until that point. In my healing recovery process I learned that an attitude of gratitude could shift me from anger, fear, guilt, shame, loneliness, hopelessness or any other uncomfortable emotional state into a state of hope and excitement.

Since 1981 I have seen November as Gratitude Month and the week of Thanksgiving as Gratitude Week and Thanksgiving Day as GRATITUDE DAY. So, during this Gratitude Week I once again sat down and made a long list of everything I’m grateful for in my life. This took quite a while as I do have so much to be grateful for.

What I am most grateful for today is my recovery of almost 36 years and my relationship with Ellen, my wife and partner of over 28 years. I make it a point to tell her everyday how grateful I am for her. Many times she laughingly asks: why am I grateful? When she asked me that question it’s easy to put together my "short list" of 25 reasons I am grateful for. I say short list because there are not enough words to express how grateful I am that Ellen is in my life.

I want to share a story that my Karate Sensei (Teacher) Richard Kim would tell us when we seemed upset or down. He said that when something bad happens say "Thank you adversity for yet another test. If you break a toe, be grateful it wasn’t your foot. If you break your foot, be grateful that it wasn’t your leg. If you break your leg, be grateful you didn’t die. And if you die, be grateful that you don’t have to finish the rest of this grueling class with me."

So today when life happens I need to remember to say thank you for yet another test and learn from it. One of the most challenging life events for me this past decade was a bit over eight years ago (September 29, 2007) when my father died. As I came out of the shock/denial of his death I had a hard time finding anything to be grateful for around that. Fortunately, I have many recovery support people in my life and I started to get into a lot of gratitude for the time I had with my father; especially the last seven years of his life when we became so much closer.

It was right after Christmas and Ellen was in Chicago with her family and I was really grieving dad’s death. I then decided to go through all my gratitude lists for that year and before I was half way through the year my attitude shifted. Many of my early gratitude list items were about different things I was grateful for in my relationship with Dad.

So again this year I’m wishing you all a Happy Gratitude Day (AKA Thanksgiving Day) and hope you can find many things to be grateful for today. No matter what you are experiencing; work hard to acknowledge what you are grateful for. An attitude of gratitude can turn a dismal day into the best day of your life if you let it.

It is impossible to be in gratitude and suffer at the same time — the choice is yours!

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