Sometimes life can be a bitch. According to Eastern philosophies, suffering is inescapable but can be overcome. Regardless of what troubles envelop you, you have the power to live a happy, healthy life. Gratitude can help you get there. Feel thankful for all of life’s blessings.
I give thanks every day, not just on the third Thursday in November.
The last two books I read filled me with immense gratitude for being born in the United States in this era. "La Niña Alemana" and “Viajera Nocturna” are both novels by Armando Lucas Correa. Each chronicles the lives of a young girl growing up in Nazi Germany. The “Niña Alemana” is a blue-eyed blonde uber-Aryan-looking 12-year-old who happens to be Jewish. Correa’s lead in the next novel is the daughter of a Christian German couple. But, one parent is Black. Both girls flee to Cuba to survive the edicts to eliminate all non-Aryans from the republic.
I cried numerous times as I turned the pages of Correa’s stories. Becoming an exile may be a lifesaver, but it doesn’t erase the emotional traumas. Although both books are fiction, Correa was a meticulous researcher whose personal experiences came into play as well. He left his homeland during the Castro regime. Now, I imagine the father of three children is grateful to raise them in the U.S., not unlike my grandparents who gave endless thanks for immigrating to the U.S. pre-WWII.
For a more uplifting non-fiction choice, order my award-winning self-help book, “From the Boxing Ring to the Ashram.”
Several chapters are inspirational and motivational and underscore the importance of gratitude. The last chapter focuses on a former mind/body colleague of mine. Before she became a tai chi and yoga-in-motion instructor, Brenda Bell was a world-class boxing champ.
Fresh out of high school, under the tutelage of a two-time karate Olympic champion, this peaceful soul earned her first dan, or black belt.
As shared in my book, by age 23, at the pinnacle of her martial arts career, she began sparring. Brenda had unstoppable, steel-strength focus and discipline. She trained all day, every day. There were never-ending rigorous diets and daily weigh-ins. She was unbeatable.
However, like Muhammad Ali, too many punches caused Brenda permanent brain damage. Boxers refer to the result as punch drunk. But it does not wear off in the morning or with an aspirin. The official diagnosis, called dementia pugilistica, causes cognitive impairment, speech, mood, and behavioral disturbances. The serious irreversible condition frequently mimics Parkinsonism.
Ultimately, the peaceful champ’s biggest fights were not in the ring but with her brain. There is no reset button for dementia pugilistica. With one trauma after another, she left the boxing ring.
With seemingly nothing left to live for, she sunk lower and lower. She went from 130 to 400 pounds. Living with chronic pain, she was overmedicated and understimulated. Thoughts of suicide spotted her mind.
Fortunately, her innate can-do positive attitude and time in a residential brain treatment center pulled her out of a long funk. Her most challenging and critical knock-out was overcoming her physical, emotional, and cognitive battles. Her winning strategy? A positive mindset, ongoing gratitude practice, and keeping a smile on her face.
Today, she is the picture of gratitude and contentment despite chronic pain, PTSD, and dementia pugilistica.
We all need to maintain a positive attitude. Take care of yourself for peace of mind.