If you could choose gratitude or resentment, which would it be? 

For a long time, about 12 years, I’ve had a considerable number of food intolerances. What I can’t eat varies somewhat from year to year, but it includes things that make other people groan, “I’d never be able to stop eating … chocolate, cheese, garlic, bread, dessert …”. If you’ve ever been out to dinner with me, you may have seen me hand the server a business-size card and say, “I can’t eat all the items on this list, please ask the chef what I can eat.” It’s a bit of a challenge, especially in a family that loves to cook and eat out. A cheat is no small thing. I will feel sick for three days.

I’ll ask you again if you could choose gratitude or resentment, which would it be?

Over these past 12 years, my attitude towards my food intolerances has ranged from gratitude to resentment and back again with various shades of emotion in between. Now that I have experienced both gratitude and resentment, I’ll tell you that I would choose gratitude every single time. It does not change what I can eat, but it changes everything else.

Resentment feels weighty and tangled. It puts me in a powerless position where I feel like I am a victim and at the mercy of some kind of cosmic injustice. Resentment feels like I’m a bird caught in a cage that beats it’s wings bloody against the bars and still cannot escape. Gratitude, on the other hand, feels light and airy and free. It finds joy, freedom and blessing no matter what terrain it crosses. Gratitude assumes life is happening for you, not to you. From this vantage point, gratitude, it feels like anything is possible.

“As smoking is to the lungs, so is resentment to the soul; even one puff is bad for you.”

Elizabeth Gilbert

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  1. Both resentment and gratitude assume that the circumstances in our lives are controlled by a higher power, by something or someone to be resented or thanked. I agree that resentment is unhealthy. But when bad things happen to the good and innocent – like fibromyalgia, or genocide, or a stillbirth, or ALS, or a debilitating accident, or spina bifida, or a massacre in an embassy, or the suicide of a child – that is no reason for thankfulness. If these are the works of a higher power, that is monstrous.

    As a humanist, I respond to injustice with “action” and/or “acceptance”. I act when I have the capacity to do so (e.g. feeding the hungry, or changing my lifestyle). And when bad things happen that I cannot influence (e.g. my own incurable cancer), I accept and move forward.

    Liked by 1 person

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