Beverly Knauer is better known to those at the Talking Low Carb Forums as Moongoddess, where she shares her insights, empathy, and support with
other low carbers every day.
Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. It turns what we have into enough, and more.
It turns denial into acceptance, chaos to order, and confusion to clarity. It can
turn a meal into a feast, a house into a home, a stranger into a friend. Gratitude
makes sense of our past, brings peace for today, and creates a vision for tomorrow.
— Melody Beattie
The beginning of the holiday season brings to mind the classic film, It's a Wonderful Life, starring
Jimmy Stewart as George Bailey. The most memorable scene for me was when George returns home after
finding out what life would have been like had he never been born. A previously suicidal George
now rejoices at his mundane town life, joyously shouting as he runs through the streets:
"Merry Christmas, movie house! Merry Christmas, Emporium! Merry Christmas, you wonderful old
Building and Loan!"
A transformed man, he approaches his home with a new vision and admiration, and says "Oh, look at this
wonderful old drafty house!"
George, having taken a trip through turmoil and struggle, emerged on the other side with a newfound
appreciation for life. With eyes no longer veiled by discontent, he sees that the routine and ordinary
existence he had scorned is now something to be grateful for.
Tragedy has the power to jolt us into a newfound perspective. Perhaps that is its purpose.
I received my jolt after a series of raging wildfires tore through my city. Firestorm 2003 came to San
Diego County as a blaze that progressed into an inferno of death and destruction. Precious lives were
lost, along with destroyed acres of land and thousands of homes.
The local news told of one woman who woke to the sound of police pounding on her door. She was
horrified to find flames raging outside her kitchen window. There was no moment to spare - she
grabbed her children and her car keys, and fled. The fires roared without warning and bore down
with no mercy. The ferocity of the fire, with its iridescent orange glow, raged throughout a county
held hostage by fear.
Another story highlighted a man who rose to find the blaze too close to home. The wind howled as the
horrifying flames inched behind his garage, while ash, smoke, and debris swirled above his swimming
pool. He hardly had time to grab his dog and a photo album before fleeing. With smoke so black he
couldn't see a foot in front of his face, he pressed forward into the unknown.
Life will never be the same for many. Forced to take refuge at an American Red Cross Center, some
had only the clothes on their backs. They watched the television, waiting to learn the status of
their friends, their loved ones, their homes. Some were miraculously spared. Sadly, others were
not. Clothing, furniture, photographs, heirlooms, art work, beloved objects, cars, pets, projects
in development, books - all lost in the charred rubble. The devastation is overwhelming.
When I awoke the morning after the fire had first seared through the city, I realized the
significance of my blessing. My house was left standing - the fire had spared my loved ones
and me. A new sensation filled my heart that morning, and I experienced hikarat hatov, which
means, literally, "recognizing the good" in Hebrew. Gratitude.
Gratitude is about affirmation - the practice of appreciating what is already yours. When you
allow gratitude to enter your mindset, you see with clarity how much good there is in your life.
If you've lost your home, but you still have your family and health, you have something to be
grateful for. There is almost always something to be grateful for.
I now have a new way of seeing the things around me. The insignificant trivialities of life,
like the peeling linoleum in the kitchen or the barking dog next door, no longer bother me.
Gratitude can't coexist with discontent.
It is human nature to put so much emphasis on the deficiencies in our lives that we barely perceive
the good. But when our sole focus is on changing things we don't like about our lives or ourselves,
we lay the foundation for conflict. The means to achieving gratitude, then, is not to change the
things around us, rather to change our corresponding attitude. When we stop finding the imperfections
in our experiences, we learn to accept what is. Gratitude lends a softening to our hearts, an opening
of our eyes, and a burgeoning curiosity for what we can give back to the universe.
Tragedies are opportunities to take a good look at ourselves. If we are willing to look at the
totality of our experiences, we may find that we can focus less on the "holes in our lives" and
find the beauty in what is. Acceptance means stepping into the flow and away from the
struggle - moving toward a state of grace.
Our world, at times, is going to be filled with anguish and pain. These experiences allow our
hearts to cry - they bond us as humans in unity. To know the pureness of jubilation, one must
Gratitude is a component of contentment. Living in a state of yearning and want forces us to
live in a void. Feeling appreciation and thanks for what we have fuels a sensation of peace
within. When we focus on what we lack, we get distracted from the abundance of blessings we
receive on a daily basis. A simple change of focus can lead to profound insight.
As a result of the pain my city has endured, I found the transforming power of gratitude.
Today, I am grateful that the sky, which had been blackened with smoke and ash, is blue again,
and like George Bailey, I discovered - It's a Wonderful Life.
Copyright © November 2003 Beverly Knauer and Low Carb Luxury
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