I found a wonderful quote from a book that I read last fall, If the Oceans Were Ink: An Unlikely Friendship and a Journey to the Heart of the Quran by Carla Power (review here), a memoir about a Jewish (though mostly secular) woman's quest to learn about the Quran from a friend/colleague of hers, a Muslim scholar living in England with his family. She spent a year immersing herself in the Muslim faith and learning how real Muslims live (not the extremists who too often dominate the news).
In this passage, she is talking about her friend, affectionately known as "the Sheik," and his family and her observations of their focus on gratitude:
"Spending time with the Sheik and his family, I was struck at how grateful they were for small things, and how often. In Sumaiya [his daughter] and her sisters, I saw none of the vague dissatisfaction I'd seen flourish around me - indeed, in me - growing up. As a member of the American middle class, I was raised in a nation of strivers, a nation founded on the right to pursue happiness. Our discontent was productive. It got things done. The drive to do better propelled you through graduate school and up career ladders. Through spin classes and salary negotiations. A world of infinite favors didn't yield reliable results. My secularist's do-it-yourself existence did not get me into the habit of being grateful for date palms, fragrant herbs, and seas."
- If the Oceans Were Ink: An Unlikely Friendship and a Journey to the Heart of the Quran by Carla Power
Maybe that is why I have become so much more aware of gratitude - and so grateful for the small things in life - since becoming ill. Most of us living with ME/CFS and other chronic illnesses have been removed from that "nation of strivers." No longer propelled by drive or able to get much done, we have, by necessity, slowed down such that we are able to notice those small joys and feel gratitude for the things we do still have in our lives.
Since posting my gratitude post earlier this week, I have kept up my pledge to post on social media (for me, Twitter and Facebook) each day using #GratefulToday. I am loving the habit of pausing each day to consider what I am grateful for. Even more, I am enjoying hearing about what others are grateful for in their lives. It has been inspiring to hear about the tiny victories in people's lives, the small things they are grateful for, and especially, the ability to recognize and feel gratitude, even on a really bad day.
I hope you will join me and others in sharing your own #GratefulToday gratitude each day. You can leave a comment here on the blog, use #GratefulToday on social media (I check it each day!), or follow me on Twitter (@livewithmecfs) or on Facebook and reply with your own gratitude there.
This small habit of daily gratitude has already helped me (especially in dealing with a difficult family member this week), so join in!
Today, I am grateful for a quiet Sunday at home with my husband. What are YOU grateful for today?