It’s hard to believe, but another new year has arrived, and, as usual, many people insist on making resolutions (despite the fact we know that many will fail before mid-January). I think some are doomed to fail because keeping the resolution is usually out of our control. A resolution is a personal choice and can only succeed if the person making the resolution takes total ownership of it.
I gave up making New Year’s resolutions a long time ago, but recently, a friend made a comment about living in a state of gratitude. In spite of everything – positive and negative we may be experiencing, we can find gratitude in every moment. That got me thinking about my own life and how I can at least try to turn everyday into a good day, even if it’s been a day when not everything has gone as well as I had hoped. Can I accomplish this – especially as a woman living with metastatic breast cancer? Can I be grateful for the fact I live my life from month to month, dependent on disability payments and a small part time job? Can I forgive people who have wronged me – especially those I thought were friends, when in reality, they were nothing more than people looking out for themselves but using friendship to disguise their true intentions? Can I find gratitude in the things over which I have no control?
If I were to make an “official” New Year’s resolution, I could resolve to try to turn every day into a good day. I can’t control the fact I have stage IV breast cancer, but I can control how I deal with it and live with it. I can choose to not let breast cancer define me. I can be grateful that despite having a terminal illness, I have done well on every treatment and am now into my 7th year with metastatic breast cancer. I can resolve to be grateful that I can survive financially and have access to the best cancer care. I can’t control that my perfect part time job will continue, but I can be grateful that I qualified for and was chosen from many applicants for a teaching position that allows me to keep my earnings under the maximum monthly amount allowed by SSDI.
I can certainly choose to forgive those who have wronged me, bullied me, lied about me and harassed me – all for their own gain. This one is the toughest for me, but I am working on it because these “friends” really aren’t worth the amount of effort I’ve put into being upset and angry about situations over which I had little or no control. I can, however, control how I deal with this going forward.
In reality, there are many things over which we have no control that truly give us the most joy and reasons to be grateful. For me, having a 14-month old grandson gives me a reason to be grateful for the gift of seeing this little person, who is a part of me, develop his own personality and grow and change every day. There are many random things in our lives that bring us joy beyond anything we thought possible, yet we often fail to recognize these as gifts. We cannot live in the state of gratitude until we realize there is good all around us. I found this quote by author and blogger Marelisa Fábrega that is a great definition of the true meaning of gratitude and how embracing it can change our lives:
“Gratitude should not be just a reaction to getting what you want, but an all-the-time gratitude, the kind where you notice the little things and where you constantly look for the good, even in unpleasant situations. Start bringing gratitude to your experiences, instead of waiting for a positive experience in order to feel grateful … It means learning to live.”
Instead of starting 2016 with resolutions, I have started the new year by being grateful for the things in my life that allow me to have a wonderful life – even if I do live my life one day at a time. I can find gratitude in the things and events I cannot control.
In the end, however, I think we could all deal better with the rough times if we are more grateful for the smooth ones.
Happy New Year and may 2016 bring us closer to the cure for metastatic breast cancer and help each one of us learn how to live in a state of gratitude.
Don’t Stop Believing!
May you realize that even in your darkest moments, something wonderful and amazing can happen that will change your life and remind you to never stop living for those rays of light that will take away the dark.