Getting to ‘Thankful’ Can Help Get Through Hard Times

Posted by Harriet on

I’m still reeling from the incredibly inspirational interview with Jeni Stepanek last week.  I feel drawn to continue a bit longer with this and hone in on one of Mattie’s poignant and wise- beyond- his years, comment.

“If you have enough breath to complain about anything, you have more than enough reason to give thanks about something.”  Mattie Stepanek   

If this powerful concept, stated from the mouth of a 10 year old, isn’t enough to make us take stock of all that we have to be thankful for, then we really need to shake ourselves up, take off those dark glasses and clear away those crotchety cobwebs so we can see where the light is shining.  We can then begin to illuminate for ourselves the good in our lives.   

We can always benefit from a reminder of being grateful and appreciative for what’s going right in our lives.   Even when things all seem to be going wrong.     

As a coping mechanism, it’s especially important to be able to see even the tiniest particle of light when all the lights seem like they were shut off.  We have to be able to hang on to something.  Sometimes that something is a hint of sun pushing through the clouds.

When my middle daughter, Nava, was hospitalized, in a coma on a ventilator, and darkness engulfed me, I remember saying a couple of  ‘At Leasts’.   “At least she’s in a great hospital; at least she’s got great doctors; (And that was just by chance; we didn’t get the opportunity to seek out the best doctors.)  At that time, that was my version of being thankful.

A couple of months later, when she was off the vent  and  I was able to feel and see a bit more clearly out of the crisis mode, I was able to get to the thankful part, a bit. 

I became thankful for each baby step towards survival – from waking up, to moving a finger, to being trached, to finally moving on to a rehab hospital.

When I lived up in the rehab hospital with Nava, I was truly grateful that my younger daughter, Penina, got along with her step-father, Alan.  It was just the two of them for months, at home together.  It could’ve been a disaster, but it wasn’t.  At least I had peace of mind on that front. 

Finding some good points for which to be thankful,  definitely helps one go through a tough time. 

It’s all too easy to find the negative and the complaints.  And we’re certainly all good at that.   But to start to exercise our positive muscle so we use it more, let’s try some homework:

We can end our day by writing down three things we are thankful for, however small they might be. 

Instead of complaining to a supervisor about the lousy service we got from an employee, why not  call or write a note to the supervisor complimenting a good worker. 

What thanks can you give when going through a rough time?    

How can you exercise your ‘thankful’ muscle?

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  • personalpower4me

    Hi Harriet,

    There is much to be thankful for. I say thankyou many times per day. I love your quote ‘If you have enough breath to…….”
    There are many complainers in our world yet it is so simple to be thankful.
    Thank you for this post.
    Be good to yourself

    • rebuildyourlifecoach

      Hi David,
      Thank you for commenting and Liking this. Yes, it is simple to be thankful, yet it’s way too underutilized.
      I thank you for your support in my {relatively} new blogging endeavor.

  • Beth

    Even in my darkest moments, thankfully, I have found that there is someone, or something someone has said to propel me forward.
    At many times it has been you , Harriet, and I thank you for that.
    A very worthwhile blogpost. Thank you for posting.

    • rebuildyourlifecoach

      Hi Beth,
      We all need to be “propelled forward” at times. I like that expression.
      I’m very glad I could be there for you, as you have been there for me. As Dionne Warwick sings, “that’s what friends are for; for good times and bad times…”

  • Beth

    When I saw you today I did not remember what I wrote to you; I looked to be reminded of what I said. And “yes” it is genuine and I love Dionne Warwick’s song. It is one of my favorites because it is so true. Keep up the good work!

    • rebuildyourlifecoach

      Thanks again, Beth. Is it any surprise that this song is one of your favorites, too?!!!!

  • Beth


  • livingsimplyfree

    Harriet, you story touched me, I stopped by from Smart Living 365 and am so glad I did. You had me with the comment from Mattie, I too have Muscular Dystrophy and looked at Mattie as inspiration as things became more difficult for me. I could always say there was someone worse off than I was and to quit feeling sorry for myself. But then i came to your personal story of your daughter, I hope your daughter has recuperated and is fine today. Yes you were very fortunate to have wonderful doctors and the love of a good man through that crisis.

    • Harriet Cabelly

      Hi living simply free,
      Thank you for sharing here. I hope you are managing well with your personal challenge. I know there will always be those ups and downs. We have to give ourselves permission to be human and let all our feelings flow through us – the bad and good. I’m glad you could take away some inspiration from Mattie. That’s my purpose in doing these interviews.
      My daughter had a miraculous recovery. She has her life back after a year-long hosopitalization and gruesome uphill climb. And then she still ended up needing to have her colon removed and have an ileostomy. She is doing great with it. We all truly witnessed a miracle, many miracles in fact.
      All the best to you.


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