It’s mid November already. For many of us, in the US anyway, it’s the month of Thanksgiving and gratitude. Gratitude is November’s theme. A good theme, to be sure. But sometimes, does it seem like gratitude has been turned into some sort of contest? Do you ever feel pressure to feel gratitude in a certain way and feel badly when you don’t?
After a cancer diagnosis, some proclaim to appreciate life more. They say they’ve learned to slow down and take time to smell the roses. They’ve learned to prioritize. They’ve learned to appreciate the little things, to stop fretting the small stuff and so on.
What about you?
Are you more grateful since your cancer diagnosis?
Some (including me) do not give cancer credit for such a thing. I didn’t need cancer to be a wake-up call. I didn’t need cancer to make me appreciate my life or my family. I appreciated them before. I appreciate them now.
Basically, today I am grateful for the same things I was grateful for before cancer.
Am I more grateful for these things today?
Maybe. Maybe not.
I’m not sure what is accomplished by saying we are more grateful today than yesterday, last year, or before cancer. There is nothing to prove.
Gratitude is not a contest.
How we look at gratitude, how we feel about it, and how we express ourselves about it varies from person to person, as it should. There is no right way to “do” gratitude either.
Like many things, gratitude evolves and fluctuates. It changes as we change, yes, but I
cannot will not say cancer made me more grateful. I resist this idea. To me, it feels like yet another attempt to frame cancer as something positive, a gift even. And by now, you know how I feel about that notion.
When you were a child, undoubtedly, your parents taught you to say, please and thank you. They most likely worked to instill in you a sense of gratitude. They wanted to teach you good values. This likely started off as you merely learning basic good manners. You learned appreciation for others, for things done for you and for things given to you as well.
You learned about gratitude.
Over time, gratitude takes on a deeper meaning. Some where along the line, it becomes more than just saying thank you.
Cancer or no cancer, gratitude can and should keep evolving.
Gratitude takes practice. Gratitude is something you do. This makes sense to me, “doing gratitude,” in other words, practicing gratitude.
Since my cancer diagnosis, I try to practice gratitude every day. But I did before as well. Some days I am not successful. But I wasn’t always successful before either.
We shouldn’t judge gratitude levels or feel guilty for those days when we don’t feel much gratitude, or at least not as much as we’re “told” we should. And yes, I have days like that.
What about you?
Maybe this is why I resist saying cancer made me more grateful. Perhaps doing so would make it unacceptable for me to have days when I do not feel grateful. I want those days. I need those days from time to time.
The important thing is not whether you feel more or less grateful than you once did.
The important thing is to feel, nurture and yes, practice gratitude whenever you can, whenever you’re up to it. And if sometimes you’re just not up to it, that’s okay too.
Because gratitude is not a contest.
If applicable, do you feel you are more grateful following your cancer diagnosis?
Do you ever feel pressured to feel or “do” gratitude a certain way and feel guilty when you don’t?
How do you practice gratitude?