When we are ready to leave any situation—relationship, job, a life condition—we are usually ready for something new. Sometimes we know what that something is, sometimes not. We seldom realize it but, at that moment of exiting and entering, we are facing two doors. One of the doors is marked “Sorrow, Regret, Shame, Fear, Resentment, Blame.” The other door is marked “Grateful, Excited, Curious.”
If we open the door on the left, we are immediately faced with another door marked “Sorrow, Regret, Shame, Fear, Resentment, Blame.” If we open that door, we find a third door marked “Sorrow, Regret, Shame, Fear, Resentment, Blame.” No matter how many times we open another door we take our “Sorrow, Regret, Shame, Fear, Resentment, Blame” with us.
If we open the door marked “Grateful, Excited, Curious” we move forward into the new and unknown. We have a list of gratitudes for those experiences we are leaving behind. If you ask us what we learned and received from them, we can tell you because we are carrying those gifts and lessons with us.
As we prepare to transition from one set of life experiences to another, we each have the opportunity to consciously choose how to move on. We can intentionally examine our recent experiences and identify ways in which they served us, joys we experienced, lessons we learned. We can intentionally be grateful for this period of our life. If we make that choice we will carry that gratitude into our new life. Our other choice is to leave because we are filled with resentment, blame, shame, sorrow, or regret. We can leave in an attempt to escape those thoughts and feelings. Unfortunately, we will carry those painful experiences and feelings into our “new” life, only to find that it’s much the same as the life we just left.
Gratitude is a set of skills and, like all skills, it improves and becomes easier with practice. I’ve been practicing for 33 years and I’m getting good at it. As much as I disliked and ran from a life of sorrow, I embrace and love this life of gratitude, excitement, and curiosity.
I encourage you to practice. Here is a simple way to get started: Think of an experience you’ve had that still feels sorrowful, regretful, or filled with resentment. Can you think of one thing about that experience that you loved? One thing you learned? One valuable experience you never would have had if you had not lived that period of life as you did? If you can think of something, write it down. Maybe it will allow you to remember something else that was valuable. Write that down as well.
It might be hard to imagine, but those thoughts of gratitude and appreciation turn into a key and that key unlocks a door to your future. It’s worth the time it takes to develop these skills. You already have a key to that resentment door on the left and it still works. No point in remaking that key over and over.
Get started! Intentionally find one grateful thought. It’s the key to your future. If you like you can borrow a prayer I regularly say to myself and to All That Is:
Thank you for this life! The hardest times brought me here and this life is glorious! I’m grateful for the past and I’m curious what’s ahead.