Recently, in thinking about all of the things that have happened in life, both the bad and the good, it’s been easy to be thankful for the good things. I’m a good person and I work hard; I deserve the good things that happen to me. But, then when thinking about the not-so-good things that have happened, it feels as if life has been unfairly cheating me out of something that was supposed to be mine. That apartment would have been the perfect place to live. How dare he come into my life if he was just going to leave. That promotion was supposed to be mine; they promised me.
But, what if we flip this thought process around and choose to be grateful for the things we have been given, not the things that may or may have been ours?
Everything we’ve been given in this life is a gift. We come into this world with nothing, and we leave this world with nothing. Nothing is guaranteed or promised to us at any point in our lives. In this way, everything that has been given to us and then taken away was never really ours in the first place. And as devastating as loss can feel, it is an act of restoration to life before we were gifted with a temporary presence.
What right do we have to be angry at life for taking away what was only life’s to give away from the very beginning?
The only thing we really get to keep and say is ours is the experience and our memory of that. Every event, person, accident that happens to us boils down to an experience that changed our life. Maybe it created only a small change with a tiny ripple effect that pops up every once in a while. Or, maybe it created a huge change that altered our entire framework of being. In the end, all we have are the ways an experience changed us, manifested as our more wise selves.
As we reflect on the past year, we have the opportunity to look back on everything that happened to us as a gift and try to understand what we learned from all of those experiences. It’s hard to maintain this clarity of mind while in the middle of an experience, as we are clouded by emotions and are busy reacting to what is happening in that moment. But, with the benefit of hindsight and removal from the immediate stimulus, we can apply a thoughtfulness to how we choose to process past experiences.
As we look forward to the upcoming year ahead of us, we can remind ourselves of how lucky we are to have everything currently in our lives at this moment and that any other good thing we hope to achieve in the next year is also a gift. Set intentions, work hard, treat others with kindness, and be open to all of the gifts with which life may present us.