Wednesday, 30 September 2015

Being thankful and simple pleasures.

Major life events can be called life-changing in a dramatic way, but undramatic, day-to-day choices can end up being life-changing too.  (I see that the film, 'Sliding Doors' is on TV this evening. A case in point.) In my life, answering the college telephone, overhearing a customer in a local shop and changing a collection point for a charity, all changed my life immeasurably. 

This short blog is about a dramatic, life-changing life event. Two years ago today, my husband unusually complained of a stomach-ache. Twenty-fours later he was undergoing life-saving and life-changing surgery. Thank-you NHS and Mr Gatt at Scarborough hospital.

I reminded him of the anniversary today and he said that he hadn’t realised what day it was and didn’t really want to think about it, because of negative memories. That's a useful way of managing upsetting memories, "If you pick it, it won't get better." But I reminded him that it was also the anniversary of survival and how we made some positive changes to daily living.

It’s been a beautiful, autumn day today. We took the opportunity to go for a local walk, exploring a part of town that we hadn’t visited before. Before the illness, if a lovely day was in the week, we would have stayed in, working. Then, probably complained at a soggy weekend that often followed. Today, we made hay while the sun shined.

It may sound trite and perhaps schmaltzy, but we find some pleasure in every day and are thankful. I've always had Pollyanna Syndrome and know it can be trying for people sometimes, but I'm also realistic. Of course, there is plenty to complain about and to be concerned about, but there is always something to be thankful for too.  It doesn't seem to do any harm and we can also be more choosy about what we worry about and how much we worry. 

"I've had a lot of worries in my life, most of which never happened." Mark Twain

Nearly being deprived of small, simple pleasures has heightened our appreciation of them. I recall a client, who found counting three blessings before getting up in the morning, helped her manage the domestic chaos that awaited her outside the bedroom door. I know of people who chose to do something similar at the end of the day.

When I ran the practice, I often used this quote to help clients:

“…we live in the past or in the future; we are continually expecting the coming of some special moment when our life will unfold itself in its full significance. And we do not notice that life is flowing like water through our fingers.”   

Father Alexander Elchaninov

Not living for the day, but in the day.


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