Gratitude: One Taught Me Love, One Taught Me Patience

Even before Ariana Grande’s “Thank U, Next,” one of my spin instructors had been talking about how we can learn and grow from past relationships. As someone who believes that how you frame things is everything, this really resonated with me. Still, it wasn’t until class this past Saturday that the idea of being thankful for these learnings really hit home.

It’s all about changing your outlook. Smiling can even make you feel happier!

It’s all about changing your outlook. Smiling can even make you feel happier!

It was the penultimate song of class, aka the song where he “preaches” (my term, not his), the lights were out, and the resistance was decently thick. Being Thanksgiving weekend, the idea of gratitude felt natural. But then he flipped the script. Rather than just think about someone we were grateful for, we were asked to then think about someone we had lost touch with or no longer spoke to, someone with who relations were tense or non-existent. It could be a friend we’d drifted from, a former boyfriend/girlfriend, a family member, former co-worker, anyone. He asked us to think about what we had gotten from that relationship and send out gratitude to that person for whatever it was we had taken away.

I’m not going to tell you who I pictured for the second category, but it was such a powerful moment. I remembered so many happy times and rather than look back with disappointment and even anger at how things played out, focused on the gifts I got that are still with me today (Note: I’m not talking about material objects).

So often we focus on turning our own flaws into our fires (credit to this same instructor for that phrase), but we don’t take our hurt or loss in regards to others and look at how it’s made us who we are; in many cases, we’re actually left with a lot of beauty and goodness. It’s not an easy exercise, and doesn’t necessarily erase the pain, but, at least in my experience, it really changes things. As we move into the holiday season and reflect on the year that was, I challenge you to think about who is no longer in your life and send them gratitude for what they gave you.