A Gentleman's Guide

NOVEMBER | 2018

NOVEMBER | 2018 | ESSENTIALS

GRATITUDE: A REMINDER

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Hey Beaux! We hope you’re enjoying this month’s Gratitude issue! We know that the holiday season is upon us and that it's normally this time of the year where we start to think about the things we’re grateful for. For many of us these things may include, but might not be limited to our family, friends, station in life, and good health. More times than not we dedicate our gratitude to the positive people and experiences in our lives because it's easy and gives us that warm fuzzy feeling on the inside. We’re thankful for the love and support we receive from our family and friends because they allow us to thrive and to feel as if we’re a welcomed part of something. We appreciate our jobs because they provide us with the means to adequately feed, clothe and shelter ourselves, and nothing beats being given a good bill of health from our doctor, which comes as a result of having a job that provides us with the insurance needed to be seen by said doctor in the first place.

 According to Twitter (because we use every source we can), people pray and are grateful for,  good health and stability, strength, happiness, and success. The unspoken assumption is that whatever god we pray to will provide these things and that we, in turn, will express our gratitude in whatever way our faith instructs us to.  But how, pray tell, are we to express gratitude when we receive a diagnosis of cancer, congestive heart failure, or HIV? What kind of gratitude might one exhibit when there’s no visible light at the end of the tunnels of depression, failure, and uncertainty?  How might we express gratitude when our family and friends forsake us when we unexpectedly part ways with our employer and the good graces of the gods of good health are recanted?

Before we hit you with the “being grateful is a choice” rhetoric, we totally understand that we can’t easily will ourselves into feeling grateful, happy or less depressed.  We can all attest to experiencing the feelings of grief and loss associated with death, the agony of failure and the torment we so often correlate with the end of a relationship. We know the feelings of regret, pain, and hopelessness as well. The key to overcoming these things is to remember the times when these things weren’t present, to recall the instances when the people we’ve lost were alive and well, the times when our relationships were in good standing, and when feeling contrite was the last thing on our list of things to feel. In times like these, our objective should be to focus on the good, when we’re confronted with the bad and the ugly “ifs” in life.

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We can’t pray and hope for strength and then run when the chance to demonstrate the strength we’ve prayed for presents itself, because we’ll never know how strong we can be. And, just the same, we can’t ask for patience and discernment if we’re not prepared to use either of the two the moment our mettle is tested. None of this is to suggest that we celebrate something as impactful as a bad bill of health as much as it implies that we should be conscious that such things are possible and that any of us who haven’t endured these instances should count our blessings.

We meet the challenge of demonstrating gratitude during our darkest hours by looking for the lesson. There is always, ALWAYS a lesson. These lessons appear to be more visible when times are good. When we get that promotion we so diligently worked for we attribute the lesson as being “hard work pays off”, but we’re not so quick in looking for the lessons associated with being looked over the for the promotion or in not even being considered for it. The disservice here is we rob ourselves of the opportunity to learn in the wake of making ourselves the victim of a circumstance that, in its purest form, was meant to encourage us to push harder.

We can apply this any negative episode we encounter throughout life, as doing so makes for a pretty effective counter. By doing this we transition from being the martyr of fate to being its champion. The how to this is to not only learn the lesson but to consider the growth we want to experience from it. Okay, so we’ve just been diagnosed with HIV. What growth can we attain from this? What will we do to progress from this news and what changes will we make to our perceptions, attitudes, and directions in life? And as far as finding a source of gratitude is concerned in this situation, we can be thankful that we know and had the resources to access care, we can be satisfied that we’re not living in the ‘80s and that its no the death sentence it once was and, if we’re continuing the trend in being honest, that its not cancer.

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So, after all of this time, we can finally hit you with the “being grateful is a choice” Being grateful is a choice, a choice that only the most disciplined minds among us have the ability to make in the fell clutch of circumstance. No, willing ourselves to feel grateful, less depressed, or happy isn’t always a possibility, BUT it's not always impossible either. As cliche as it sounds, we are responsible for our happiness. Regardless of whether or not we control the circumstance, we can, and should, always control the ways we respond to them.

Our hope is that you consider these things during this holiday season and in any other event where you find yourself unable to demonstrate or express your gratitude. Life won’t always be a crystal stair, but it will always be life, the life that someone woke up without, the life whose circumstance is worse than you, the life that may throw a curveball every now and again, but one where every second of every minute, and every minute of every hour, should be something met with unmatched gratitude and appreciation.

Remember this, always.


Jeremy Carter