Gratitude is Contagious. ~ Sara Courter

Via elephant journal
on Apr 9, 2013
get elephant's newsletter

The other day I heard a story about a man who lost his arm.

This isn’t just any man; this is a man who I knew as “a regular” at my place of work. I saw him last week and noticed the stump of a limb that hung from his body, marred and rounded off at what would have been the elbow. He greeted me with a joyful smile, a wave of his good arm and came through my line.

He spoke to me familiarly, and I could have sworn I recognized him, but I couldn’t place a man with one arm in my memory. I would have certainly remembered this friendly sweet soul who is missing an arm—unmistakable. I forgot about the encounter until a few days later.

He came striding up to me and said, “Hey girlfriend, how’s your day?” He was joyful, beaming, totally upbeat. This solidified that I must know him. I just recognize him, and my eyes darted unconsciously to his arm again.

Why don’t I remember you missing an arm? It never occurred to me that something so life changing had happened to him since I’d known him. He couldn’t possibly be so incredibly happy if something like that had happened recently.

“How are you?” I asked him, reciprocating the upbeat banter.

As if reading my mind he replied,“Oh just recovering from my little boo-boo here.” I looked up to see him gesturing with his marred stump of an elbow. I met his eyes and let the confusion knit itself across my expression,“What happened?”

He proceeded to tell me the story.

Despite thirty years in the same job, constantly telling others not to wear loose clothing or gloves near moving machinery, he got too close to a gear lift in a pair of work gloves. He said he just went down to spray some DW-40 for a moment—and in less than ten seconds, his arm was gone. The only reason his upper arm was saved was because the motor automatically shut off after devouring him up to the elbow.

My jaw was dropped open in utter disbelief, shock radiating from the pupils of my eyes; he told the story so matter-of-fact.

“I’m getting better at using my left hand,” he said. And it was then that I realized he’d lost his right arm, even more of a challenge to overcome.

A coworker of mine asked when it happened: February. Not even a month and a half had gone by since this happened—and here I had been wondering if this occurred in the two years I’ve been in my job!

Four weeks. That’s it. This man’s life completely changed in four little weeks.

“I’m so sorry that happened to you…that is unbelievable…” was all I could manage.

“I’m just happy to be alive!” was his reply.

I’m just happy to be alive.

If only we could all think that way on a daily basis, without having to lose our dominant arm or have a near death experience to remind us of what a gift it is to just be breathing! To have two legs, to have two arms, to have sight, to have a heart beating in our chests—a gift!

My instinct is to feel it’s inherently cruel to feel grateful and learn such a lesson through someone else’s intimate, life-changing misfortune. But the reality is that it’s human to do so. That man learned the same lesson, and his positive reaction has ripple effects.

They are rippling through me, and everyone whose path he crosses. When we hear of awful things happening to our fellow human beings, our brothers and sisters, we are affected.

We feel the sorrow, the shock, the hurt, and the resulting gratitude at the gift of survival—the gift of life.

What is it to be human together in this ever-changing, uncontrollable world if we cannot learn from one another, if we cannot instill in one another deep set gratitude, appreciation, compassion and empathy?

I am grateful for that man, my friend, who lost his arm and still carries himself so gallantly though life. I am grateful for the effect he’s had on me. I am grateful for the reminder to not take something so precious as a hand, an arm, a body, a life for granted.

Let us be aware today, happy to be alive today, grateful today.

Gratitude is contagious.

So be grateful—because, really, there isn’t a moment to waste.



SaraCourterBioSara Courter holds a Bachelor’s Degree in English Creative Writing and is in the process of completing her 500 hour YogaWorks Teacher Training. She is also a proud myInsens Ambassador. Sara is passionate about holistic wellness, integrative nutrition, yoga and body image. In addition to being a writer and yogi, she is also a DIY junkie, ocean lover, healthy foodie, animal lover, hula hooper, and sports nut. Sara’s intention is to spread love and self-appreciation amongst fellow beings and, one day, lead yoga retreats by the sea. She also intends to someday have a family, a few dogs, a bursting garden, and an eternal sense of peace within her heart. Follow her blog or her twitter and facebook.


Like I’m not spiritual, I just practice being a good person on Facebook.


Assistant Ed: Josie Huang/Ed: Bryonie Wise


(Source: via Maria on Pinterest)




About elephant journal

elephant journal is dedicated to "bringing together those working (and playing) to create enlightened society." We're about anything that helps us to live a good life that's also good for others, and our planet. >>> Founded as a print magazine in 2002, we went national in 2005 and then (because mainstream magazine distribution is wildly inefficient from an eco-responsible point of view) transitioned online in 2009. >>> elephant's been named to 30 top new media lists, and was voted #1 in the US on twitter's Shorty Awards for #green content...two years running. >>> Get involved: > Subscribe to our free Best of the Week e-newsletter. > Follow us on Twitter. Fan us on Facebook. > Write: send article or query. > Advertise. > Pay for what you read, help indie journalism survive and thrive—and get your name/business/fave non-profit on every page of Questions? Send to [email protected]


One Response to “Gratitude is Contagious. ~ Sara Courter”

  1. Diane D'Angelo says:

    Yes, gratitude is important. It's also important to be aware that the "attitude of gratitude" meme oftens serves as a manipulation to silence people with real concerns, like unsafe working conditions.