November 26, 2015

Giving Thanks for the Sh*tty Moments in Life.


I had the great fortune of stumbling upon Arthur Brooks’ article in the New York Times, Choose to Be Grateful. It Will Make You Happier.

Based on one of the studies he cited, I learned that my hypothalamus and ventral tegmental area of my brain were being stimulated, as I was deeply grateful for his ability to poignantly draw together the research and craft such a beautiful piece for all to enjoy. It ignited a passion in me to delve deeper into the studies and learn more about this thing called gratitude that has tremendous positive implications on one’s psychological and physical health.

I came across Robert Emmons’, a professor at UC Davis, work and his three-year research project called Expanding the Science and Practice of Gratitude. In collaboration with UC Berkeley, his aim is to develop evidence-based practices that promote gratitude in schools, offices and communities and engage the public in a larger conversation about its importance in society. I am ever so grateful for the research being done; the significance of actively practicing gratitude cannot be understated, especially in times of crisis. Our world is being inundated with violence, despair and disease.

Instead of fighting fire with fire, hatred with hatred, vengeance with vengeance, can we stop, take a breath, and practice some gratitude?

In his article, “How Gratitude Can Help You Through Hard Times”, Emmons writes,

“Consciously cultivating an attitude of gratitude builds up a sort of psychological immune system that can cushion us when we fall. There is scientific evidence that grateful people are more resilient to stress, whether minor everyday hassles or major personal upheavals. The contrast between suffering and redemption serves as the basis for one of my tips for practicing gratitude: remember the bad.”

Remember the bad, I tell myself…and give thanks for it.

Giving Thanks For The Shitty Moments In Life...

I give thanks for all those moments that I have failed in life; for all the times I have disappointed those I love; for all the experiences where I didn’t quite meet the expectations that were set; for all the instances that I have fallen flat on my face and had a really difficult time getting back up.

I give thanks for all of it, as I realize that my value was never contingent upon my ability to succeed and that I am worthy regardless of whether or not I measure up to a particular standard.

I give thanks for all those who have overstepped my (once) flimsy boundaries; for those moments that I have felt unsafe, been in danger and have experienced trauma. I give thanks for the fact it’s allowed me to see where I wasn’t in my power, where I wasn’t being brave and where I was afraid to speak up and say no. I give thanks for all of it, as I have learned the importance of creating solid boundaries, using my voice and honoring myself before anyone else.

I give thanks for the multiple breakings of my heart; for the men that I have loved and have lost; for the men that I never had to begin with. I give thanks for the hurtful moments of my past that left me feeling encumbered at one point—wounded beyond repair (or so it seemed). I give thanks for the courage it took to keep moving forward, to keep cultivating my stability while standing on a crumbling foundation. I give thanks for all of it, as it has led me to unconditional love within myself and the realization that it was never someone else’s responsibility to make me feel whole.

I give thanks for the cruelty I have felt from others; for the cutting jabs to my character and the spiteful attacks on my integrity. I give thanks for the vulgar comments that have been made, both behind my back and to my face. I give thanks for the judgments others carry and project.

I give thanks for the humility I have found in the darkest shadows, the kindness that’s come pouring through me in the face of hatred, and the compassion that has replaced the desire to retaliate. I give thanks for all of it, as it has helped me see the self-judgments that I still carry and the places where I get to further heal and fiercely love myself.

I give thanks for a horrific disease that is growing in numbers; that is one the top leading causes for death; that is without a cure. I give thanks for it as I witness my profound strength being ignited in the face of grief and my ability to breathe through moments that seem suffocating. I give thanks as I choose to be present (to the best of my ability) and live each moment fully, recognizing that I have no idea what will come next. I give thanks for the fact that I am not a victim, I do not wallow, I do not dwell, I feel my pain fully and yet I rise strong. I give thanks for all of it, as I am choosing to find the blessings within a shattering reality.

I give thanks for all the things that keep me up at night; for all the experiences that lead to sorrow; for all the moments that make me want to hide. I give thanks for the haters that hate, the blamers that blame, the fighters that fight and the shamers that shame, all causing me to look within and really question how I am choosing to show up in this life.

I choose to give thanks…for all of it.



How the Grump Spoiled Thanksgiving.


Author: Jessica Winterstern

Editor: Catherine Monkman

Photo: Author’s Own, Gisela Giardino/Flickr



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Hope Dec 18, 2015 7:16pm

Isn’t that what its all about? Learning! The good and the bad? How do we know we’re wrong if we’re never corrected? Its like the Jews in the Old Testament before Moses came down the mountain with the “law”. They didn’t know what they had been doing was wrong because they were never told any differently. Then they put a name to it. Sin! A huge word for some, while meaning nothing to others. We may get our feelings hurt because of someone’s correction, critique, judgment, or even punishment. But what we see as any one of those things, the other person may not. We of course know the law. We have a sense of morality for the most part but that subject is debateable as well. We know what’s “right” and what’s “wrong” because its been engrained in us since birth. Well most of us. But who’s to say they are right? Regardless, we take the critique, the judgement, the correction and we either defend our opinion with judgment of our own, or we take it and learn from it after the hurt wears off and we get better. Like this author, at age 40 I have finally learned to be appreciative. Its when u can take the good with the bad and be thankful that at least someone noticed, someone heard, and took the time to either like or dislike and comment. But I’m thankful for it all and just maybe I learn something or get just a little better than it was. But gratitude honestly changes you. When you can say thank you for the pain because there are others who did not wake up to feel anything, you learn to psy attention just a little more, to take it all in because there’s so much your gonna miss.

Anonymous Nov 26, 2015 5:20pm

Sad, I am guessing that my rant was shared with this lovely woman. Some things that could hurt someone should not always be disclosed when shared completely anonymously and when not naming a name on a private page. And remember how I ended it with she is real and sorry to her for being judgey. SoCal culture is foreign to me and she did happen to write an article a few seconds before I wrote my rant that left me feeling judged and misunderstood so it was easier to judge her in some form too in this instance, but some things that could likely sting are best not to be relayed to an innocent person like her. There is nothing I can think of to say except sorry and that she should ignore my rant just like I took her article with a grain of salt. I hope she keeps sharing her bold, beautiful voice and shares what is true for her. Maybe her comments in this article have nothing to do with this and if this is so please don't even mention this to her would be my request.

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Jessica Winterstern

Jessica Winterstern received her B.S. in Applied Psychology from NYU, her M.Ed. in Human Development and Psychology from Harvard, her M.A. in Spiritual Psychology from University of Santa Monica and is currently studying Compassion at Stanford. She is a woman who stands for Truth. Through her guidance, she helps women and men reconnect to their source of power within, compassionately, yet fiercely reflecting back to them the Love they have been yearning for and worthy of since the moment they were born. Connect with Jessica through her website, Facebook and Instagram.