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Giving Thanks: A Single Cell

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Sometimes it’s hard to find something to be thankful for. It’s always so easy to see the things that are going wrong in our lives, and much more difficult to stop and take account of what’s going right. Why are we so ungrateful?

Since this is Thanksgiving, what an appropriate time to take stock of all that we have to be thankful for, and remind ourselves that gratitude breeds more good things. Sarah Ban Breathnach did a great job of reminding us how important it is to express gratitude in her book Simple Abundance. Oprah raved. Thousands started gratitude journals.

Finding five things to be grateful for everyday was sometimes tough when I first started my journal. I had just broken my ankle in multiple places on a ski trip to Lake Tahoe over new years with my boyfriend. He lived in Miami. I was back in Denver post-surgery in my cast, on my crutches. Perched in my second floor condo with outside stairs covered in ice, and unable to drive myself anywhere or even carry a cup of tea to the sofa, I was feeling big time sorry for myself.

I am a hugely independent person, and find it very difficult to ask for help. I now know that I had this experience in order to learn to do just that. I couldn’t grocery shop, take out the garbage, or even get myself to work. And it’s tough for other people to really understand what you’re going through, so I didn’t even get a lot of sympathy. People would walk past without holding the door open—stop for a minute and try to imagine opening a door and getting through it on crutches. Have you ever thought about how many of your pants won’t fit over a bulky cast? Kind of narrows down your wardrobe.

In the end, it was my gratitude journal that helped me get through this difficult situation and realize how good I actually had it. My injury was temporary. Many people deal with permanent disabilities or chronic diseases every day. My ankle would heal and I would be able to go back to the same activities I had done before I was hurt. My cancer diagnosis brought a similar scenario to bear, though this time I got a lot of attention, sympathy and support.

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We value and respect our HERWriters' experiences, but everyone is different. Many of our writers are speaking from personal experience, and what's worked for them may not work for you. Their articles are not a substitute for medical advice, although we hope you can gain knowledge from their insight.

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