Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Happiness is a Byproduct of Being Grateful

This time of year can be very hard for some of us. Many have lost loved ones, leaving them with only an empty chair to look at during the holidays. It grips your heart so tightly, that it feels like you can't breathe. We hold onto the grief tightly too. For whatever reason, most of us prefer that dark feeling -- the grievance that aches our heart. IT's a sense of being able to at least feel anything at all. But what if we changed our mindsets? What if we knew how present and "alive" our deceased loves one were? What if we knew for sure, that they were still around us during very important moments? Remember, the deceased do not miss us. They don't long for anything. There is no time there, so the "missing someone" part is taken out of the equation. Our human minds make us believe that maybe our deceased loved ones miss us, when actually, they already know that we'll be together -- the reassurance of uniting once again. Our lifetime is only but a minute to them. And let's face it, life is pretty short when you look back ten years from now. Doesn't it feel like yesterday?

I've been discovering some new things lately regarding pain on both emotional and physical realms. This past year, I took two horrendous falls. (One fall that my mother was in tears laughing at -- that's a whole other can-o-beans), and the other fall was down my stairwell. My tailbone hit every single step there was to be found.

Here are the differences: the first fall was walking into a restaurant falling flat on my face because of a ledge that was unforeseen, aka, Deb's clumsy as hell. Although it hurt like the devil, I laughed it off because it was so funny. It truly was. And to see my mom laughing made me happy. Anything to make her laugh just gives me joy. After having our laughs over my toss and tumble into the restaurant, my pain left me. I thought to myself, "Wow, I am gonna feel this tonight!" But I never did. My knees were like huge balloons because I fell on them. My hands were bruised, yet no pain. The laughter kept me from feeling pain. The endorphins that were let off was like pure medicine -- an instant pain reliever.

The second fall was different. I was worrying about my mom's health. I had been crying most of the night, worrying that she was suffering. I left my keys, jeans and shoes next to my nightstand in case I had to rush her up to the ER or if I had to call 911 for her again for another transfusion. I cannot tell you how much it breaks my heart to see her go through so many procedures, unhappy, not laughing like her usual self. I wish I could just take the pain for her! Early the next morning, I got a call from my sister asking to check on my mother because she may need an ambulance. I ran down the first set of stairs, and as I went to go approach the long staircase, I fell on each step with my tailbone. The pain radiated from my butt all the way up to my head. But because I was so upset to begin with, my emotional pain seeped into my physical pain, leaving me crying like a big baby. I couldn't stop crying. My back went out and my right leg was completely numb from my sciatica nerve. This lasted for quite some time.

Do you know someone who suffers from fibromyalgia? I was diagnosed with it four years ago. Every single step I took hurt so badly, that I could barely walk some days. The pain was everywhere, from my joints to my skin feeling like it was on fire. Most of all, if I was stressed out or sad about something, my fibromyalgia would flare up something awful. I noticed the pattern. I've spoken about this before -- there's something I learned from Eckhart Tolle that's called the "pain-body" -- where physical pain is stored up by emotional pain. Whether it was in the past, or currently in the present, emotional pain can wreak havoc on your body, causing great pain and even illnesses.

I guess you can also say that a good attitude can help with emotional pain as well. Someone asked me the other day, "Deb, you always look happy. Are you happy?" And I said to her that I'm not always happy, but more so, I am very grateful. I think gratitude has a lot of power -- the power to enable all of us to be happy in some way. I make a gratitude list of everything -- from running water to the roof over my head. These things that many take for granted can be taken away from us as quickly as it was given. We need to realize that nothing lasts forever and that all things are impermanent.

We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they are good for us--they help us learn to endure. And endurance develops strength of character in us, and character strengthens our confident expectation of salvation. --Romans 5:3-4

Being present and conscious lets me realize how precious life us -- how amazing every single moment is right "now'. My first prayer of the morning is just thanking God for His undeserving favor. And when you become completely grateful for all you have, it makes room for more good things to come your way. Things are set into place and will come to fruition.

When your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow. So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be strong in character and ready for anything. --James 1:3-4

When I realized I was practicing gratitude and the appreciation for the "now" and being conscious of all that God has given me, I was prepared for anything. For instance, last Wednesday night, right before Thanksgiving, I was sent to the hospital for health issues. While in the ambulance, I saw Jesus sitting next to me right on my gurney. I can have joy in the midst of chaos. You can have joy in the midst of chaos. The medic took an EKG and just stared at the results and quickly gave me nitroglycerin and four baby aspirins. He called the hospital and said the EKG was inconclusive and that my heart rate and blood pressure was too high. I kept hearing God tell me, "Now do you realize how precious life is? Will you now stop saying you hate your life? Will you stop complaining about the nightly seizures that are caused by stress and trust in me more?" I made a solid promise to God in that ambulance. It was a promise of never taking my life for granted, or wishing that God would just "take me now" when I'm feeling that pseudo suicidal wackiness. I do from time to time, because I just don't want to deal with anything I can't handle. But God reassures me that He will never give me anything I cannot handle.

Through my experience, the key to "happiness" or at least, a constant joy that only God can give is gratitude. It's the appreciation for every single thing you have. It's the acknowledgment of God working in your life, strengthening you in various ways so that we can cope with what's to come. Our lives often get interrupted with inconveniences that frustrate us, but if we can learn to accept those interruptions and be conscious of God's presence as well as the present moment, those "inconveniences" will become clearer to you of why it was put in your path. Things don't always run smoothly or as expected. Our high expectations for a "perfect life" will come crumbling down if we do not accept the fact that we MUST be in the moment and have no resistance to it. And as the old saying goes -- whatever you resist, persists. Stop resisting and accept what life is bringing to you, whether good or bad. Take it, and manifest it for the good.

We know that God makes all things work together for the good of those who love Him and are chosen to be a part of His plan. --Romans 8:28

Stop trying to figure out why, and start accepting what God placed before you. God's will is always in our best interest.

For more of Deb's articles, please visit: www.debrapasquella.com or join her on Facebook and Twitter. Check out her cooking blog for some of her famous recipes!