Gratitude for the Stomach Flu and Life’s Other Miseries

 I’m grateful to the past for setting me right here in the present and allowing me to learn from all that came my way, both good and bad.

Every Thanksgiving I spend about 10 seconds thinking about what I’m grateful for. The list doesn’t change too much and it goes something like this, “I’m grateful for the health of me and all of those that I love, my family, my friends, work, and my dog.” The order is often subject to change with the dog landing in the first spot because she’s my biggest fan but the list remains the same. This year I have just completed my training as a life coach and I’ve learned to view some aspects in life from a whole new angle. So I decided to revise my Thanksgiving gratitude list this year. Here it is:

1) The stomach flu. I am really grateful to the stomach flu for two important reasons. The first is that right after I’m done having the stomach flu I have about 5 minutes where I can fit into my skinny jeans. They only fit until I have a sip of water but I’m really happy during those 5 minutes of skinny jean bliss. The second reason that I’m grateful for the stomach flu is that I’m so, so, so happy when I don’t have the stomach flu. The stomach flu reminds me that being healthy feels really fabulous and that I should never take that for granted.

2) Difficult, annoying, rude people. Yep, I’m grateful for those that I meet through work and those that hang out in my personal life. Without them I would never have learned to count to 10 and take long deep breaths while reminding myself that murder is illegal, desirable but illegal. They remind me of exactly who I don’t want to be. They’ve also taught me how to manage myself so that I’m better able to respond to them without going postal. They make the semi annoying people in my life seem far less so and they make me eternally grateful for the amazing friends in my life. So in 2012 bring on the mean people!

3) Fear. I’m probably most grateful to fear because it loves to hang out with me each and every day. It’s almost as loyal as my dog (but nowhere near as adorable). Fear whispers in my ear every day telling me not to try new things and to not take risks. Fear tells me that it’s trying to protect me from harm and to keep me safe from a big scary world. Fear loves me! Fear is pretty sneaky too, it loves to disguise itself as being too busy, or a sore back, or needing to clean my house, or anything that distracts me from looking fear right in the face and doing what I’m afraid of anyway. Fear keeps me on my toes and I look forward to the challenges that it will throw my way in the future.

4) My past, every last second of it. I really have a wonderfully dysfunctional past filled with charming (and not so charming) childhood stories of dysfunctional family members and crazy (in my professional opinion) relationships. In the past I would bemoan these relationships and suggest they were the cause of current moments of emotional instability but I’m so over that. My past has made me me. Flawed, imperfect, learning, growing, aging me. Just think of all the ways that you wouldn’t be you if not for the challenging relationships and historical events in your life. It’s fun to blame our past for our problems but after a while we really sound silly for not growing up and taking responsibility for our own adulthood. So I’m grateful to the past for setting me right here in the present and allowing me to learn from all that came my way, both good and bad.

So this year at the Thanksgiving table I’m going to ask my kids to tell me things that they are grateful for that seem like really bad things to them. Things like, ball hogs on the basketball court, annoying teachers, mean girls, hard college classes, moms like me who ask them too many questions, dads like my husband who tell bad jokes, grandparents who worry too much because they love their grandchildren so fiercely, and other such hardships that really, really lucky children get to face.

Happy Thanksgiving to all of you and may you be blessed with a visit from the stomach flu or at least some dysfunctional family members.


Lisa Kaplin Psy. D. CPC

Lisa Kaplin Psy. D. PCC

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by Dr. Lisa Kaplin
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About Lisa Kaplin, Psy. D, PCC

headshot of Lisa KaplinCertified Life Coach and Psychologist at Smart Women Inspired Lives.

I’m the proud owner of Smart Women Inspired Lives, where I help overwhelmed and exhausted women move from the feeling of being “stuck” into a life filled with calm, confidence, and joy. In addition to the posts and articles I write, I offer individual and group life coaching sessions, classes and speaking engagement opportunities.


Preparing for a Rotten New Year or NOT?
Preparing for a Rotten New Year or NOT?

Comments to “Gratitude for the Stomach Flu and Life’s Other Miseries”

  1. I don’t think happiness is so much about what you have. What you have changes; your “blessings” evolve. Happiness is about how you interpret what’s in front of you. How proud you are of the way you live your life. How willing you are to enjoy simple pleasures, even if things aren’t perfect.

    • Administrator

      Everette, I completely agree.

  2. Administrator

    Thanks Val!