As we approach Thanksgiving, a time when many of us reflect on our blessings and give thanks for the abundance in our lives, I wanted to share a different perspective on gratitude. While it's easy to be thankful for the good things, the sunny days, and the moments of joy, I believe that true gratitude also includes our ability to appreciate life's challenges in addition to the victories.
Imagine hiking through a valley, surrounded by towering mountains. The path is rugged, and the climb is steep, but as you struggle through, you can't help but look up at those peaks in awe. It's the challenging work of the climb that makes the mountain views that much more beautiful. This analogy holds true in life as well.
One of those valleys for me was on my journey to fatherhood. The path included six years of grappling with the emotional rollercoaster of infertility—marked by prolonged waits, the hopefulness of positive pregnancy tests, anxious doctor visits, and the crushing heartache of loss. Those days stand as some of the most emotionally taxing moments in my life. Even now, as I write about them, the emotions resurface.
However, all of the pain made my gratitude of finally becoming a father immeasurable. I am thankful for the journey, not just the end result.
I recently came across Jocko Willink's talk about the concept of "good." He discusses how we often label experiences as "good" or "bad" in the moment, but it's often the "bad" experiences that lead to growth and greater appreciation for the "good" in the long run. It's a powerful reminder that life's challenges are not obstacles; they are opportunities for growth and a deeper sense of gratitude.
So, this Thanksgiving, let's not only be thankful for the obvious blessings, but also for the valleys we've travelled through and the strength they've given us to appreciate the mountain tops. True gratitude is born not just from the good times, but from the entirety of our life's journey.