I am thankful for all the things one is often thankful for. There are the basics, of course: food, clothing, shelter. And then, as we move up Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, my thankfulness begins to include love, friendship and growth.
Aha! Growth. Here’s where we find the other part of what I’m thankful for. How do we grow? We encounter challenges. The sticky stuff: heartbreak, failure, challenge.
When we’re in the thick of it, it’s hard and messy to wade through. When we reach the end, we can look back and see the richness of our experience. Or not. Sometimes it takes quite awhile to see the fruits of our labor.
The icky stuff changes us. It makes us stronger, more empathic, compassionate, kind. It helps us know what to say and what not to say to people when we see them going through similar situations.
I don’t know about you, but I learn more from failure and heartbreak than I do from success. When I succeed at something, I think, “Wow, how lucky! Wonder how that happened? Who knows!” I attribute a hefty dose of magic to the positive outcome, and move along.
But with despair, I stop, sit and contemplate what happened. I consider my actions and where I went off course. I learn all the ways I can work toward a happier ending next time.
So this Thanksgiving, I will be grateful for all my mistakes and hard times, and how they have shaped me into who I am. And I’m also grateful for how the hard times have shaped you, too. We are all connected in more ways than we’ll ever realize.