Tag Archives: grateful

How My Newborn Son’s Near-Death Taught Me that We Can Always Choose Gratitude

baby boy   Seventeen years ago this morning, my (then) wife gave birth to our first son.  He was six weeks premature.

I caught a glimpse of him as the nurse whisked him to the delivery room table where the team gets babies breathing.  My wife and I waited, anxious to hold him.

But we heard no cries from our baby.

More nurses began to gather around the table and assist the doctor.  The team’s activity became more frantic; we could hear the concern in their voices.  Minutes passed, seeming like hours, but still we heard no sounds from our baby.

“What’s wrong?”, we began to imploringly ask.  Tears of fear streaming down our faces.

The delivery team was too occupied with working on our son to answer our questions.  Within moments our baby was rushed out of the delivery room and a nurse explained to us that they were unable to get him breathing and were rushing him to the children’s hospital downtown.

We never got to hold him on his birthday.  Let alone see him.

Wipe Your Eyes (I Just Did) and Keep Reading

My son is seventeen years old today.

He spent over a month in that infant intensive care unit.  I aged a year in that month.  And I’m happy to say (given the alternative) that my son has given me plenty more opportunities to prematurely age since March 27th, 1996. 😉

I’m really proud of the thoughtful, open-minded, curious, intelligent, and mature young man my first-born son has grown into.  I’m grateful I’ve had the opportunity to be his father and mentor him.  He’ll always hold a special place in my heart because he is my first child; he made me a father.

It’s been wonderful to have the perspective of what “might have been”, had things turned out differently during my son’s first month of life.  Especially when he does something that gives me a few more gray hairs.  Yet I’m also grateful that I don’t need something so obvious, to feel grateful for, to find gratitude.

(Finding gratitude for being grateful is a very powerful Mobius band, by the way.  I highly recommend it!) (Click that link to Tweet it)

Did You Know You Have a Super-Power?

Yet my gratitude for my son on his birthday reminds me just how powerful gratitude is.  In a universe where our beliefs create our expectations and our expectations create our material reality, building beliefs powered by gratitude forms extraordinary life experiences. (Click that link to Tweet it)

In fact, as I’ve written in an earlier post, gratitude is so effective it’s like a secret super-power.

Is there any life experience where you can’t uncover some inherent gratitude?  I haven’t found one yet. (Click that Link to Tweet it)

Oh, I’ll be the first to admit that I have plenty of life experiences that are undesirable or unwanted.  Things that would be different were I, literally, writing a script.  But even the worst hold kernels of gratitude; in fact, sometimes the worst of them hold the most powerful seeds of gratitude. (Click that link to Tweet it)

Even if only in retrospect.

A Commitment and Willingness to Try is All it Takes

If I’m committed to finding gratitude in all my life’s circumstances, I’ve found that I can eventually find gratitude in even the really undesirable ones.  Because of my previous experiences with finding it there.

As in, I can tell myself this story:

“Although this event is very frightening, feels bad, and is extremely unwanted, I can believe that I’ll be okay, things happen like they’re supposed to, and, in the long run, I will most likely find hidden blessings in these events.  Even if that takes a while, for now I can choose to feel my feelings, resolve to face my fears, and trust that things will be okay.”

Allow Me to Be Presumptuous for a Moment

Am I presumptuous to tell you that you can always choose to tell yourself a story like that one?  What if you’re dealing with the death of a loved one, learning about a frightening diagnosis, or losing your marriage?

No, I am not being presumptuous; I have faced those events myself and told that story.  Things have not always turned out exactly as I wanted, but that story has always proven prophetic  – I have always been okay in the long run and, also in the long run, I have always found hidden blessings in those undesirable events.

Because, over time and with enough telling, that story has become one of my beliefs.

Given the Choice, Why Wouldn’t You Choose Gratitude Over the Alternative?

The stories you tell are, and will always be, your choice.  Even when the events are horribly unwanted.  Google the names of “Viktor Frankl” and “Louie Zamperini” if you want to learn more about people who used this technique under the most wretched situations imaginable and survived (even thrived) – especially as time passed.

Today, as I feel grateful for the gift of seventeen years spent with my son, I hope you, too, find many things to be grateful for.  And I also hope you join me in my commitment to telling stories about all life’s circumstances that allow you to feel gratitude.

You’ll love the material reality those beliefs you build will create.

And Happy Birthday, son!

And stay tuned to this blog for more techniques to use new paradigms from quantum physics to align your life with your desires…

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How to Enjoy Mopping the Kitchen Floor and Change Your Day in the Process

  When was the last time you ate at a sumptuous buffet?  With the choice to fill your plate with whatever foods you want, did you head for the food that you don’t like and ladle it onto your plate?

Did the stewed okra catch your eye?  Fill your plate with lima beans?  Take two huge servings of brussel sprouts?

Of course not.  While you probably didn’t load your plate with nothing but bacon, pastries, and banana pudding, I’ll bet you focused on foods you enjoy.

Isn’t It Wonderful to Skip the Brussel Sprouts?

Isn’t that the appeal of a buffet, after all?  You have the freedom to choose – and skip over what you don’t enjoy in favor of what you like and want.

Aren’t we lucky then, that each day we’re alive is a buffet?  With each moment, we are offered the same freedom to choose.  To choose to tell ourselves stories about (assign meaning to) our life that feel bad and keep us separated from the experiences we desire.  Or to tell stories that feel good and align us with the experiences we want.

No, you don’t necessarily have choice over all your actual experiences; picking and choosing each experience you have is not what makes life a buffet, because most of us don’t have that much influence no matter how long we’ve practiced creating our own reality.  What makes life a buffet is the choice you have regarding the story you tell about (the meaning you assign to) each life experience.

You Don’t Have to Pretend to Like Anything to Take Advantage of Life’s Buffet

Does this mean that you should pretend to like things you don’t?  Perhaps you aren’t thrilled to be mopping the kitchen floor or you’re not excited to be staying late at the office to finish some paperwork – should you be acting like you’re loading your plate with tasty roast beef from the buffet line?

No.

But alternatively, do you have to say, “Mopping the floor sucks and I hate this!” or “I am so mad I’m here at the office late and this has ruined my evening!”?  Who made those rules?  And why do you often act as if you have to follow them?

Life is a buffet because you get to chose the stories you tell.  Why not say, “Although I’m not necessarily overjoyed to be mopping this floor, I am glad that my family and I will get to enjoy a clean kitchen” or “Maybe I’d rather be doing something other than this paperwork right now, but I am grateful I have this job and I feel good about doing it well.”

Given the abundant choices surrounding you today, try these kinds of stories and see what an amazing difference they make.  And stay tuned to this blog for more about how to tell new stories and create a more desirable reality…

Dear Mr. Grumpy

  Hey grumpy.

Yeah, you.  The guy who won’t let me merge on the expressway.  The fellow who doesn’t return my smile in the grocery store.  The guy who complains about the movie while sitting behind me.

I want you to know how inspiring you are to me.  I wish you weren’t so unhappy – I truly do.  But, since I can’t change you, I choose to learn from you and find gratitude in your presence.

I used to be like you too.  I used to think life was happening “to” me, as if I were a passive observer who had to suffer life’s whims like a flag being blow whichever way the wind took it.  As if I had no control over my state of being and, instead, had my outlook dictated by whatever was happening around me (most of that being, in my view, not what I wanted).

I used to see people as my adversaries.  As if life were a contest and, if I didn’t win, you would.  We were all, in my view, fighting for a the same piece of that small pie I called “desired outcomes” of my life’s efforts.

I used to think that you were out to beat me, just as I wanted to beat you.  That you were out to get me, even, so that I no longer posed a threat to you.  Because that’s how I thought about everyone else.

I used to reserve my unprompted friendliness and smiles for people who had something I wanted.  Giving out that stuff freely, I used to think, was at best wasted energy.  And, at worst, showing weakness.  I used to think you had to be tough to survive the daily grind.

Then something happened to me.  I realized just how unhappy I was.  I realized how miserable my life was day-to-day and how little enjoyment I ever felt.  I realized just how much of my life I was missing out on by being fixated on everything that was “wrong”.

And I started looking to people who somehow retained their optimism and happiness amidst trying circumstances.  How did they do that, I wondered, while I have everything a man could want, yet suffered daily?

And I asked them to teach me.  They taught me how they did it and I listened; I let them teach me.  And now I teach others their secrets.  You can read how to do it too, if you ever get sick and tired of fighting life every day.  If you, too, ever become willing to surrender like I did, having had enough pain.

And, once you do, you’ll find that surrendering this fight is how you win.

But until you do, I’ll wish you well.  And be grateful for you because you’ve reminded me again today, when you took everything that was left of my favorite dessert on the buffet instead of sharing it with the guy who was obviously waiting behind you to have some, just how far I’ve come.  And just how much I don’t want to return.

When it comes down to it, I’d rather be the one being reminded of this than the one doing the reminding!  Bless you.  And thank you.