In February, 2004, I met my partner Stephane. After the initial weeks of testing each other’s boundaries and getting to know one another, we realized that we were onto a good thing, and I remember being filled with immense and overflowing gratitude. I felt grateful for having found someone with whom I was compatible and who loved me the way I needed to be loved.
As Stephane and I approach our 10-year anniversary, I find myself reflecting on the bumps we’ve had in the road that our relationship has traveled down. These bumps have been few in number, but in some cases, mountainous in size and adversity. I am aware today that the mountains all grew out of the molehills of losing the sense of gratitude from finding the love that I had once feared would elude me forever, and seems to elude others constantly. I have been guilty of taking that love and appreciation for granted, and that was one of the main factors that made the rough patches practically insufferable.
When I mentor people suffering breakdowns of communication and breakups of relationships, one of the first things I point them towards is the possibility that they’ve lost the sense of gratitude that once informed their happiness.
Do you, or have you had, parents who loved you? Be grateful.
Do you, or have you had, one person in particular who loved you for you? Be grateful.
Do you have friends with whom you enjoy a shared identity and who consider you extended family? Be grateful.
Do you have a job that you enjoy and that allows you to live the life you’ve chosen for yourself? Be grateful.
Do you have the body that carried you to this article and the eyes functional enough to transmit the words to your brain? Be grateful.
Do you know that you will eat at least one full meal a day for the foreseeable future and that you will have a roof over your head for that same period of time? Be grateful.
We are living in fascinating times in which fame is no longer the by-product of talent, but rather the goal. We can shop from the comforts of our own homes and have our purchases delivered to our doors. The cultural climate, the internet and technology have all contributed to create a false sense of entitlement through the onset of unreal expectations and instant gratification, and it is that expectation and entitlement that lie at the root of the loss of gratitude.
When I was a child, I believed that if I had a talent, then everyone else must have it, and it couldn’t be that special. Yes, that sounds crazy. But the principle applies to every one of us who has attained something that initially bowled us over at the apparent miraculousness it embodied, only to grow accustomed to that gift and lose sight of its brilliance. Every single one of us does this. Even you.
I have found my way back to that state of grace and gratitude in my relationship, which is compounded by the gratitude I’m filled with at having made it through the difficult moments with Stephane. I practice gratitude in every possible moment: when I reflect on how fortunate I am to make a living doing what my soul yearns to do, when I reflect on the love I receive from and reflect back to my partner, when I reflect on the family and community I am continuously blessed with.
Now it’s your turn. Think about it. And get real. Where have you lost your gratitude? Identify it. Then find your way back.