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It's a Wonderful Life!

Just this past week, I had the opportunity to facilitate a group of prior inpatient stroke patients. The topic was gratitude. I took them through the usual exercises: What is gratitude? What are you thankful for? To whom would you like to say “thank you”? I then passed out Thanksgiving cards and had the participants write out messages in the cards, thanking a particular person for the goodness that person brought into his or her life.

I had planned to ask the group what they were thankful for after their stroke but found myself getting close to running out of time. And then a man, probably the most debilitated of the group, said, “I thought you were going to ask us what we were most grateful for after our strokes, and I came prepared (I always try to plan ahead.) I decided that there were quite a few things I am grateful for. First, I would have never learned to swim and love swimming. Second, I would never have met all of you! I look forward to this group every month! And last but not least, I’m grateful to be alive!”

That single comment generated a host of others, and before long, almost every person shared their gratitude for their life--post stroke. Some said that they had learned to love more unconditionally. Others were more aware of eating better and caring for themselves more. One woman told the group, “My relationship with God has deepened.”

They never shied away from saying that this had been one of the toughest things they had had to deal with in their lives---the depression, sense of helplessness, having to depend more on others, but the end result was gratitude!

And gratitude feeds on itself and grows into other areas of life. As George Bailey once said, “It’s a wonderful life!” And if you recall, he had every reason to say so!


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