Gratitude: What it Really Means

The other day I was talking to a man who told me this extraordinary story. A few years ago he was in a bad car accident, hit by a drunk driver head on. He had to be pulled from the car and only narrowly escaped death. Since then he's had to rebuild his body and mind and still suffers a great deal of pain. What's amazing is this is a man who all his life never wore a seatbelt. But two weeks before his accident, he got pulled over and ticketed for not wearing one. After being fined, he began, although begrudgingly, strapping himself in. And, of course, the seatbelt is what saved his life that fateful day.

After we said goodbye, I thought about all the times I've gotten annoyed by a traffic jam or a string of red lights when I'm in a hurry. And God forbid I get pulled over for some traffic infraction! There's not time for that!

We can't possibly know when, by coincidence or by divine intervention (or in this guy's case, police intervention), we're being steered from danger. We don't know when something we see as "bad" could turn out to be "good" or even something that is "good" turns out to not be so good. Things just are what they are.

Being grateful really means being grateful for all that we have and all that we don't- all that is “good” and all that is “bad.” Gratitude is about total acceptance for what is. It's humbling when one really lets the gravity of that sink in.

So, today, I'm grateful for both the few extra pounds I carry and the willpower I had to go to the gym. I am grateful for all my debts and the ability to work and make money. I'm in the practice of being grateful for things exactly as they are, even as they are ever changing. Tomorrow I'll probably be annoyed at some slow driver in front of me and forget all this. But, today, for it is all I really have, I'm truly grateful for all that is.