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One Gratitude at a Time

Issue 24

How do we emerge from bed in the morning? If we pay attention to first thoughts, they might not reflect an attitude of gratitude.

Maybe our first thoughts sound more like, “Argh! It’s too early to get up. Who dreamed up this ridiculous work schedule?”

Maybe our first thought is not, “Thank goodness I have a job.”

Maybe our first thought screams, “OUCH! This pain in my hip… worse today than yesterday.”

This brings me to a mantra from Jon Kabat-Zinn, “If we are alive, there is always more right than wrong, always, no matter what is wrong.”

He urges us to focus on what’s right, what’s working not as a way into positive thinking, rather as a way to expand the way we see the world.

Not to take away alarm-clock blues, but to widen what that alarm clock means, employment perhaps.

Not to minimize hip pain but to open to the miracle that “I have a body.”

What if, in the middle of the suffering of what is not working, we open one tiny or one huge space for gratitude?

What could we possibly be thankful for?

My hip hurts and every ounce of awareness seems lodged there.

But wait, can I, on purpose, choose to focus bigger?

My heart beat all night on its own.

I breathe; my lungs know what to do.

I open my eyes; I can see. My ears are working; I hear the birds.

I can feel the soft touch of my comfy warm blankets around me.

First thoughts are important to pay attention to, yes. They show up automatically, not always filled with gratefulness.

But we do have control over second and third thoughts.

If your hip hurts, do your toes also hurt? If not, can you have gratitude for happy toes?

Susan Lebel Young
Susan Lebel Young
Susan Lebel Young MSED, MSC, has written for local papers since 2005, is the author of three books, and is mostly retired from her mindfulness-based psychotherapy practice. She lives and loves, works and writes, in her beloved Southern Maine, and can be reached at and

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