Monday, December 10, 2012

Gratitude: not just for the 'good' stuff

As the festive season seems to encourage us to do, to round off a year-end company event last week,  the leader invited each person to express what they were grateful for.  

It was a nice touch.  When we acknowledge and express our gratitude, we ultimately feel better, more resourceful, more connected. 

It gets us out of our tendency to lament about what we haven’t got and what is missing and instead, focus on what we do have.

Of course, it is not necessarily about the material or the tangible in our lives but also the intangible like our experiences and feelings.

And slowly slowly as I have come to recognise and accept, it isn't always about being grateful for what is going well, what we like, what we label as ‘good’ or ‘positive’ in our lives, but appreciating the challenging events and emotions that we meet like loss, pain, heartbreak, hardship and illness.

We don’t even have to label them ‘good’ or ‘bad’, wallow in or attach ourselves to them; we can just acknowledge their existence, their value, their lessons, their essence, and be grateful for the part they play in making us who we are and the part they play in our journey.

The likes of feisty feminine Nina Simone can help us on our way.  Here in the soul-stirring “Ain’t Got No, I Got Life” she cuts to the core and goes back to basics, in recognising what she does have.

And Rumi’s The Guest House, as integrated into Elle Harrison’s Wild Courage, reminds us that “even the most uncomfortable, unwanted feelings can bring unexpected gifts, teaching and wisdom”.

This being human is a guest house
Every morning a new arrival.

A joy, a depression, a meanness,
some momentary awareness comes
as an unexpected visitor.

Welcome and entertain them all!
Even if they’re a crowd of sorrows,
who violently sweep your house
empty of its furniture,
still, treat each guest honourably.
He may be clearing you out
for some new delight.

The dark thought, the shame, the malice,
meet them at the door laughing,
and invite them in.

Be grateful for whoever comes,
because each has been sent
as a guide from beyond.


  • Nina Simone,   Ain’t Got No, I Got Life   via
  • Rumi, Jalal Al-Din, ‘The Guest House’, from Say I am You: Poetry Interspersed with Stories of Rumi and Shams, translated by John Moyne and Coleman Barks, Thomas Short Inc  (1994)  in  Harrison, E. (2011) Wild Courage: A Journey of Transformation for You and Your Business, Watkins Publishing, UK, p.139-140.
  •  Image: own photo
  •  Thank you to everyone, especially you.

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