Why Bother Being Grateful for Mistakes?
Though we were created for relationships, some days it is tough being around other human beings. For instance, just this last week, without meaning to, I managed to offend two people then, without wanting to, I was offended by a few others. Though I know that moving to a deserted island is out of the question, I find that thought crossing my mind at times.
Reconciling with Gratitude
Once upon a time, I began a gratitude journal and challenged myself to keep a list of the things for which I was grateful. Soon enough though, this record became redundant and I quit writing down the blessings I found in my everyday life. Yet, this short lived drill did do something for me. It helped me to reflect not only on the things that made me grateful but that gratitude is a state of being. It can become my response to the people, circumstances and every day missteps that occur on any given day.
To set my sights on having perfect relationships, never being offended, or never offending another is an unrealistic expectation. And though I focus on being kind, caring, empathetic, aware, and fully present in the moment, sometimes things still go awry. I lose my focus, am misunderstood or react impatiently. Can I still show gratitude in these awkward, uncomfortable, and tense moments?
If gratitude is a response to the people and circumstances that surround me, then I believe I can learn to be grateful even in the midst of the most awkward situation. Not immediately of course, but with practice.
When misunderstood, in the moment of being offended, or when I know I’ve made a mistake, I admit, my first response is not one of being thankful. Instead, I get miffed, blindsided and exasperated. It is only later, when I’ve had time to sort through my initial emotions, that I find a few treasures for which I can be grateful.
First, I am thankful that my awareness level is growing. It no longer takes me days, weeks or months to figure out where I went wrong. This means that it takes me less time to amend my blunder. An apology might be in order, a note to self to do something differently, or simply not allowing my bad move to hold me hostage for the rest of my life are simple ways to right myself.
Secondly, mistakes cause me to reflect, reconsider and reach out for help. I have a group of people who know me well enough to keep me accountable. When I’ve been snarky, they tell me. When my approach needs to be softer, they let me know. If I am at fault, they will point it out.
I am grateful for this supportive group of close friends.
Why bother being grateful for our mistakes? Life is not perfect and neither are we. But we can be grateful for our mistakes because if we let them, they can teach us to respond with gratitude.