Right Now, It’s Like This

I’ve never visited any of the places Anthony Bourdain recommended. I never owned a Kate Spade purse. My palate is limited and my sense of style is best described as Mid-Life Lesbian at a Baseball Game.  Still, I lived in a world where Mr. Bourdain, by osmosis, gave everyone a sense of culinary pleasure and adventure. I lived in a world that popped with color and style as emerging female executives carried a sense of accomplishment and fun on a strap as they walked down the sidewalk. Anthony Bourdain and Kate Spade had no personal influence on my life, and yet, I feel like I’ve lost so much in such a short time.  Suicide – it does that.   It’s not just about them; it’s about us, too.

Stop Fearing; Start Feeling

When anyone, particularly a famous person, takes his or her life, it doesn’t immediately bring out the “better angels of our nature” – in fact – we tend to knock those poor angels to the ground and trample them in a rush for information.

How did they do it?

Was there a note?

Was it her marriage?

Was he on drugs again?

Did they see a therapist?

Where was the family?

What was the last social media post?

Who did they leave behind?

What were the signs?

How did we miss the signs?

It’s not the suddenness of the loss that makes us so immediately ghoulish. It’s the fear – that unspeakable chill that jumps out from the lock box in the corner of our mind and makes us believe it could be us, or someone we love, next.  The feeling of cosmic helplessness when someone goes to work one day and takes their life the next is pervasive. We paw our way through the haystack of news reports grasping at straws for our comfort – hoping to discover depression, discord, confusion, things we don’t have in our world, so we can find the elusive needle that says, “It won’t be you” or “It won’t be your daughter.” It’s illusion, you know, that assurance. We seek it all the same.

A better way is to stop rummaging around for signs of protection, and actually let ourselves simply feel our loss, our world’s loss, and remember that loss can come to us, too.  Instead of running from the specter of death, it would serve us to kneel before it and cry, admitting how very much it hurts when someone, anyone, says goodbye.  Instead of the self-serving language of “going on” – it would benefit all of us if we just admitted such a death knocks us beyond reason.

In a world where it’s hard enough to deal with the demons we see every day, we are outmatched by the invisible, insidious, and internal forces that show us only shadow, often too late. If we spent less time ruminating on the “causes of their pain” and more time admitting to ourselves and out loud – our loss, our sorrow, and our fear, it would not make us weaker. We would be pulling ourselves together by the collective thread that is our humanity.

Right Now, It’s Like This

How do we process this? With up-to-the-moment, absolute honesty. The mantra I’ve used for a while now is one designed to bring me back to ground level from the illusion of constant optimism and or the vulnerability of admitted pain. It centers me on the most important moment – this moment – and the most important understanding – the reality in this moment.  The mantra has been so powerful that I had a bracelet custom made to remind myself frequently where I am and where my mind should be also.

 

It encompasses that great comfort of temporal awareness the teachers always remind us about. “If it is something bad, it will change.  If it is something good, it will change.” So, endure or rejoice, but be where you are, because it’s the only real place to be and it won’t be that way much longer.

For Anthony Bourdain and Kate Spade, they hit the “right now” moment all of us fear most, and they dealt with their pain using the only option they felt they had left. I don’t know why. It doesn’t matter why. I hurt for their hurt. I hurt for their choice. I hurt.  I can admit that, because I know I will not hurt forever. And I will ultimately remember their larger-than-life spirit and outrageous talent. I will play with my dogs, hug my wife, and write some words. All will be well. Still, I’ve been sad most of the day. Right now, it’s like this.

The Basics of Goodness

What do Buddhists believe? When I’m asked that question there’s a flood of answers I could give ranging from 5 seconds (“We don’t believe, we practice.”) to 4 hours (“There was a man named Siddhartha…”).  The answer I give most of the time is this:

We believe that every being has basic goodness.

Basic goodness is the understanding that we all (yes, all) have a core of goodness as the central feature of our being.  This enrichment of good is the spark of life that takes hold before our first breath and will remain luminous after our body returns to dust. It is something we can connect with, reach into, and rely upon. Meditation is the park where we encounter it, walk with it, play on its swings, and learn at its feet.

The world may pull some of us away from this goodness. Emotional damage can drown out its voice. Our own confusion about who we are or what will make us happy builds walls around it and disconnects us. Yet, it remains – shiny and steady – until we return to it again. And again. And again.  Understanding that we as beings are basically good is the key to a happy life and a better world to live it in.  Want world peace? Basic goodness, baby.  The only problem is – sometimes it’s hard to believe.

Oh my goodness!

It’s easy to grasp the concept that each human being has a core that is basically good when you’re meditating on a cushion with a fully belly, a good job, shelter, and health insurance.  It’s tough to believe it when your memory becomes a slide-show of every cruel thought and action you’ve ever done – the harmful words, the vindictive plans, the lies, the apathy, the jealousy, the letting go, the pushing away. Although you realize many of those acts were reactions or driven by a personal need you did not fully understand, it’s still a stretch sometimes to know that good is the basis of all you are.  Let’s face it, we’re a mess.

Confirming our good nature as a species is even harder when you watch parents publically shame their children on Facebook to get enough “likes” to satisfy their ego. It’s a challenge when greed and corruption invade the government pervasively and the people who need an honest government the most are the ones used and lied to on a daily basis. It’s impossible when a young man kills 20 children and 7 other people at an elementary school, or a father murders his offspring so his ex-wife can’t get custody, or when terrorists fly planes full of innocent people into buildings filled with more innocent people – killing whole worlds in a moment.  Where was basic goodness during the Holocaust? Where was basic goodness when people with AIDS were told it was “God’s punishment” and denied care or compassion? Where was it when a Syrian child washed up on shore?

Where?

Where?

Where?

Where?

You’re going to need some courage to make this first important step to a happy, mindful life. It takes bravery to embrace your outrage, heal your self-inflicted bullet holes, and still stand in the world with an open heart and compassionate soul. Many of us are raised with messages of inadequacy, shame, or destruction coming from parents, teachers, or peers. Clipping those wires won’t happen overnight. Some people require therapeutic intervention just to point out which wires are the bad ones and help trace the power source. With time and intention, you can re-route your consciousness to see your beauty, your inherent value, and your goodness. The first step is to be willing to believe in your inherent worth. Then you can stand for those who cannot and should not stand alone.

There is a part of you that no abuse, no violation, no decision, no oppression, or no ambition can take away. It is indelible and indestructible. When you can’t see it, you’ll have to trust it’s there.  Trust is critical to reconnecting with your compassionate core. When you look for evidence of goodness in the world, and you trust you’ll find it, the picture comes into focus with a myriad of lenses.

Follow the waters of life

Follow the babbling brook that branches off the blood creeks of history and you’ll notice water finding its way over, around, or through the rocks. You’ll see:

The people who rise up and call out when it is in their best interest to sit down and look away.

The parents who shield children not their own.

The survivors. The lovers. The quiet reformers.

The men and women who did not survive but lived a stalwart story of their faith, their passion, and their dignity to the last moment.

The ones who would not give in.

The lights that did not go out.

The books that would not burn.

The dams that would not break.

When you look with clear eyes you will see unparalleled good outnumbering horrific evil exponentially. First, you have to believe there’s something worth seeing. Stopping and seeing is another way of saying “be mindful.”

Our potential to be delighted, to be generous, to be compassionate, and to be enlightened all point to the core of good that is our base state. As individuals we have an amazing capacity to change, learn, give and forgive. We get confused by hurts, needs, or cultural messages and we lose touch with the notion of all that is good within us.  But with a little courage and trust, we can reconnect with our primal, compassionate, good state of being.  We can make choices that come from kindness. We can stop questioning ourselves, and affirming our light in a still dark world. We can have confidence. We can have peace.

—–  The Bottom Line —–

  1. If you have trouble seeing the goodness in others, stop looking at them. Focus on your heart, your soul, your being. We won’t see in others until we believe it of ourselves.
  2. You don’t have to believe in basic goodness to have it or experience it. It isn’t going anywhere. It will wait for you.
  3. You’re good. Trust me on that.

 

Got the News Blues? Transcend the Plot

Want a sure way to rejected by every publisher ever?  Start your query letter with, “This is a character driven novel.” I guarantee you’ll be getting the “Thanks, but this is not for us” email before your tea gets cold.  Characters create feelings, give insight, and spur our desires, but in Western culture they don’t drive the story. Readers flock to plot driven stories because, let’s face it, we live in a plot driven world. Nowhere is this more evident than the daily news.

Every news story, 24/7, is some combination of “action,” “reaction,” or “the next act/reaction/implosion/explosion/backtrack/side-track/thing to get us all killed.” Day after day we endure countless assaults on our psyche with our fear center targeted as ground zero. When your day starts with, “What will happen if I lose my health insurance?” and you take a lunch break to ponder, “Is someone going to walk into my child’s school with a gun today?”  before watching where the bombs (literal and figurative) are falling while you cook dinner, it’s a sure bet peace of mind isn’t what you’ll be having for dessert. Petty lies, personality politics, devastating injustice, and this horrendous weather (Spring shouldn’t feel like December) – it’s all too much. I don’t know about you, but I’m exhausted.

There seems to be two choices – shut yourself in a cave and learn nothing of the world, or continue to endure the daily carpet bombing of breaking news until the foundation shatters and you plummet into despair. Fortunately, there’s another choice – a chance to be aware, but not overwhelmed, involved but not consumed. Sit down, breathe deeply, and see the story through a different motivating lens. Transcend the plot.

We are taught in meditation that every single breath matters. Every inhale, every exhale, is another chance to take in courage and send out compassion, take in trouble and send out comfort, take in lies and send out truth. Like a tree that absorbs toxic gasses and releases oxygen, we can mindfully bring life, hope, and happiness back into our narrative – one breath at a time.

How it looks in my practice:

News:  The family of a burglar, who died after being stabbed while robbing a home, put up a memorial in front of the house where he was killed – only to have it torn down by angry neighbors supporting the elderly man who killed the burglar to protect his wife and home.

Transcend the plot:  Take out the judgement, the action, the labels.

Breath in:  A human being is dead; another human being was frightened and took a life. A family is in mourning. A neighborhood is angry.

Breath out:Peaceful passing to the next life for the man who is dead; healing and comfort to the homeowner who is damaged. Compassion for the ones who mourn.  Wisdom and patience for the ones who act in anger.

~

News:  President Trump announced the US, France and UK did a joint operation to bomb Syrian weapons factories after Syria was discovered to have used chemical weapons in an attack earlier this week. The possibility of Russian reprisal is feared.

Transcend the plot:  Take out the action, the personalities (yes, it’s hard to do), the fear of the unknown future.

Breath in:  A war torn area has seen death and destruction. There is so much suffering. Leaders are manifesting what they think is best for them or their country. Conflict is high. Fear is present.

Breath out: Compassion and kindness for the weary people of this land. Communication and collaboration to all leaders. Empowerment and support to those who can ease the suffering of the people and the land. An awareness that we are not separate from one another, no matter what the boundary lines say. Courage, fearlessness, life in this moment.

Once you step out of the plot, the world isn’t any less wounded, but you are more able to see past the illusions of partisan ideologies, privileged judgement, and mind-numbing frustrations to the single most important hopeful truth we hold: none of this rests on us alone; we are all in this together.

A good character may never sell your novel, but being a person who sees beyond plot – to truth – can make your story a better one every day.

THE BOTTOM LINE:

  1. The news is often a toxic ocean of fear. You can swim in it, but don’t drink the water.
  2. You cannot change what happens outside of you. You control what happens inside of you and what you bring out to the world around you.
  3. It’s not what they show you, but what you see, that matters.

Impermanence, Loss, and the Dark Sacred Night

“You lost, get over it.”  I’ve heard that. I’ve seen it on Republican friends’ facebook walls and in right leaning media since November 2016. It crops up every time there is a protest, a challenge, or a searing question about helter skelter way this country is being governed. I’ve been called the other stuff too - “Libtard”…“Snowflake”…Dummocrat (which is weird because I’m not a Democrat). The only phrase that has ever really bothered me is, “You lost, get over it.” Because they are right. I have lost something.

A Promise Broken

Agree or disagree, I was raised to hold certain positions with unquestioned respect:

My parents
My teachers
Police and Authority (judges, courts)
Helping Professionals (Doctors, Ambulance Drivers, etc.)
The President

My parents were not very political people, but they were both raised in the south and carried a sense of “southern values” when it came to patriotism and the office of the President.  I grew up in a home where I was not allowed to make jokes about the President (even when it was Ford), talk badly about the President, or suggest any harm or challenge to the President.  One night, when I was in high school, I came home late from a debate tournament and saw my mother watching Saturday Night Live do a pretty good send up of Ronald Reagan. She was cackling like an old hen.  She turned to me, pointed at the TV, and said, “This is very bad. They shouldn’t do this.”  Then, she went right on giggling.   Parents of teens - if they didn’t send mixed messages, they’d have no message at all.

The idea my parents taught me was that the Presidency was more than a person, more than an office, more than a title.  It was a promise. It was the promise America made to her citizens - to defend our constitution, protect our liberties, and represent us well.  It was the promise America made to the rest of the world - to exemplify democracy, to participate globally with responsibility and honor, and stand for human rights throughout the world.  It is a promise I believed. It is a promise I imagined eternal.  It is, without doubt, a promise broken.  

Now the same age as my parents were when they lectured me about respect for the President while Nixon signed the Anti-Ballistic Missle Treaty (potentially putting my father, a man who worked on ABM’s for a living, out of a job), I have said more damning, angry, and ugly things about the current office holder than I have any other person on earth.  I can’t even say I’m ashamed of my behavior - because I’m not.

What I am is afraid.

What I am is angry.

What I am is embarrassed for my country to be represented so poorly.

What I am is tired of seeing one lie after another get explained away or laughed off.

What I am is sad, so very sad, that the constitution three generations of my family fought to defend, is nothing but an afterthought (at best) and a snot-rag (at worst) to the person whose office it establishes.

Impermanence

I am feeling the impermanence of the ground I stand on. My Buddhist teachers remind me that encountering and reckoning with impermanence is a good thing. It is the path to enlightenment, and it teaches us to cherish each moment. The part they don’t always tell you? It hurts like hell.   

It’s not the loss of my respect for the Presidency that hurts. It’s the loss of a piece of my being that keeps me up at night (Well, technically I’m always up at night, but this is what I’m thinking about these days instead of Batman or Emma Thompson).  Being an American, even one who recognizes the failures of justice and inclusion in this nation, is part of being me. It’s something that I always counted on as part of my life. It’s something I held with affection, and gratitude.

When Cathy and I were married in Canada in 2005, we spoke openly that we were just doing it to solidify some rights until the US caught up with justice. In 2014, we got married in the US, because this is our country.  Now, it’s not just a fact my marriage may be revoked by this egocentric christo-facist nightmare, but a fact the country and what it has always offered - (freedom of speech, press, petition, religion, assembly) has been sold to a higher bidder for something as fleeting as a “win.”

It’s one thing to realize the tomato plant in the kitchen is impermanent and will someday die (especially if you forget to water it more than once). It’ s another to realize the moral, ideological foundation of your home is impermanent too.  I’m not enjoying this lesson. In fact, it probably fuels more of my real anger and sadness than any lie the White House tells or back-office deal congress makes. Those are the symptoms. Constitutional Decay is the disease. I am sick with it.

The Dark Sacred Night

“I see skies of blue and clouds of white

The bright blessed day, the dark sacred night

And I think to myself…

 what a wonderful world”

       Written by Bob Thiele and George David Weiss

What do I do with these feelings, this fear, this disgust?  I am taught that the best way to deal with something impermanent is not to cling to it, but release it - to love every minute you can of it, and find every ounce of gratitude inside you for it - and let it go when and where it will.

I enjoy the freedoms I still have (I’ve been using that free speech one a lot these days), and I support the press, the communities, the path to justice as much as I can.  I am thankful for leaders who speak truth to power, and journalists and scholars working to preserve the history and intent of the constitution to give as much of its goodness to the next generation as possible.

I am slowly letting go of the hurt, but holding on to as much of me (and my eternal optimism) as I can.

I can’t count on my country to be free, just, equal, and whole.
I can count on myself to be free, just, give and love equally, and live as a whole person.

I cannot stop violence.
I will not be violent.

I cannot stop racism.
I will not knowingly engage in racism, and when I do through error or blind spot - I will be open to correction and education about it.  I will listen. I will learn.

I cannot respect the person who is currently President.
I cannot trust what he says.
I cannot hope he will get any better.

I will respect the person I am.
I will trust myself to do the best I can with what I have.
I will hope for the bright blessed day.
I will learn from this dark sacred night.

And, I say to myself, “what a wonderful world.”

Save

For More Information

Good  Read:

When Things Fall Apart

Perspectives

The Buddha's Politics

Sing with me:

What a Wonderful World

 ~

Right Anger:

Anybody can become angry - that is easy, but to be angry with the right person and to the right degree and at the right time and for the right purpose, and in the right way - that is not within everybody's power and is not easy.

Aristotle

Shall We Dance?

How awesome is my wife?  Walking in the house with arms full of groceries I said, “I accidentally offended a Christian woman while talking to the flowers at Kroger.” Cathy didn’t look up from the paper she was writing.  She wasn’t surprised about any of the phrases in that sentence. She simply nodded and said, “I’m sure she’ll survive.”  Just another Sunday I went skipping to the store with a song stuck in my head, offended religious people, and had a conversation with some lilies. No chiding. No worries. Nothin’ to see here. That’s an awesome wife.

Shall we Dance?

Of course, it helps that she’s been living in the chatty internal musical that is my life for a long time now. I have always talked out loud to everything around me.  When I park the car I pat the steering wheel and say, “Thank you.”  I talk to food I take out of the oven (“Don’t you look pretty?”), I talk to the dog water bowl (“Why you so empty?”), the television (“That was a great show, thanks.”), clothes going into the dryer (“It’s gonna be warm but you can handle it.”) and coming out (See, you look swell.”).  So, the talking to flowers part wasn’t a shock. The rest? Well, what do you expect when I’m allowed out of the house on a blistering Sunday afternoon in basketball shorts whistling musical theater numbers?  

It all started when I was in the kitchen making lunch with Briscoe the Beagle who was standing by in case things got crazy and food fell on the floor. After sidestepping around her a few times, I started singing “Shall We Dance” from The King and I. The earworm promptly got lodged in my cerebral cortex with the repeat button activated.  By the time I grabbed my keys and danced out the door, the volume was on silent but the song continued on.  Sing it with me:

Shall we dance?
On a bright cloud of music,
Shall we fly?
Shall we dance?
Shall we then say “goodnight” and mean “goodbye?”
Or perchance...
When the last little star has left the sky,
Shall we still be together with our arms around each other,
And shall you be my new romance?
On the clear understanding that this kind of thing can happen,
Shall we dance? Shall we dance?
Shall we dance?

  © 1951, Oscar Hammerstein II, Richard Rodgers

Impressively, I remembered every word of the song. What did I forget?  That Mechanicsville (the nearest town with stores) is home to roughly 3 kabillion Christian churches which all release their congregants sometime around noon each Sunday.  It was one of the few ninety degree days we’ve had this summer, and I arrived at the store wearing shorts and a T-shirt, whistling softly with a list that included veggies for dinner, treats for beagles, and some fresh cut flowers to go beside the Buddha in our kitchen. 

Kroger was packed with over-dressed, word-weary, cranky people.  One woman pushed my cart out of her way while I was picking out flowers. Another man was angrily muttering and sticking his arm in front of me when I stopped in front of the apples to see if they were on list.  I didn’t complain. I got it. They were hot, they were tired, their “day of rest” was nowhere near peaceful, and there wasn’t enough room for anyone to breathe, think, or be.  No time for manners. No space for patience.  Here was this smiling, bouncing (my secret dancing looks a lot like I’m on an invisible pogo stick), heathen in shorts and sandals in the middle of things. It was all too much.

Somehow, I made it to my car in one piece.  A nice SUV with one of those PRAY bumper stickers was parked beside me. I opened the trunk, blocking my view from that side and obscuring a sharp-dressed dad, skirt and heels mom, and 2 middle-schoolers who were exiting their vehicle. At that moment, all I was thinking about (besides that song) was whether to put the cut flowers in the front seat with me or keep them in the back with the groceries.  I found a safe looking niche and nestled them in.

     “I know it’s hot in here, and there’s some scary water jugs, but it’s a short ride and I think you’ll do fine,” I said to the flowers. “You aren’t just any flowers. When you get home you will be an offering for the Buddha! You’ll sit right beside him. How awesome is that?” 

     “UGH!” The Christian woman said, loudly. It was my first inclination anyone was nearby. I put down the trunk to discover myself face-to-face with her.  She looked straight at me, her lips curled in disgust as she frowned. She had a cross around her neck. I had a mala dangling from my wrist. I smiled. She gave me a hissing sigh, rolled her eyes, then put her arm on the back of one of her kids and guided them hurriedly away as if the car may explode at any moment, burying her in lotus petals and compassion. 

Shall we then say “goodnight” and mean “goodbye”?

I would love to say I’m so thick-skinned and self-assured that her judgy rejection slid off me like cookies on a non-stick sheet. But it didn’t. I felt the sting.  Even when I started singing loudly on the way home I was covered in the residue of her derision. My good humor remained, but it was tempered with those feelings you get when you've been put on notice that you are outside of the lines.

I started thinking about the “Pray” on her car. Who did she pray for? Her kids, her friends, her marriage, for sure.  World peace, job security, sick relatives, and safe travel? Possibly. Would she pray for me?  Not likely. And if she did – would she pray for me to be happy, healthy and loved? No. If she did, she’d probably pray for me to change, to “see a light,” to become who she thought I should be. As it was, I’m reasonably sure I took up very little space in her consciousness once she voiced her opinion and guided her children away. I was thinking about her, but she had long since left me.  I thought, “Goodnight.”  She meant, from the moment she saw me, “Goodbye.”

In one moment of interaction we got to experience the truth about “tolerance” versus “acceptance.”  I see the “Teach Tolerance” bumper stickers a lot (and their more friendly cousin – Coexist). I hear the pleas and language of tolerance in many places, and it has always been as unsatisfying to me as cotton candy for dinner. Even "coexist" doesn’t provide long-term nourishment. I didn’t know why until I sorted through my feelings about this experience.

Tolerance means she didn’t stab me in the parking lot.  She didn’t call security to have me removed, or stop and force me to confess (she thinks) it is wrong to offer anything to Buddha.  She tolerated my presence for the few moments my circle met hers, non-verbally expressed her opinion, and left. We co-existed in that hot humid space. Not peacefully, not happily, but functionally.  

Or Perchance…

What would acceptance look like? In this briefest of moments, would it look like a smile?  A nod? A murmured “hello” as two strangers found themselves face to face?  At best, it would be a neutral space between us, with nothing but air and acknowledgement of another sentient being at close range. Acceptance would have offered her a chance to save energy. There wouldn't need to be display of displeasure. She wouldn’t have to draw a line between us. She wouldn’t need to scurry away. She could just be. Acceptance doesn't mean you approve. It means you understand the value of the person with you to make their own decisions about life/faith/being.

And then, the mirror turns just long enough to let me know she’s not the only one who could have saved some energy that day.  I am sad she doesn’t understand that flowers for my kitchen Buddha give us such joy and brighten the whole room; that we aren’t engaged in worshiping a false god. We aren’t worshiping anyone.  We are showing our gratitude for teachings that make our life better, and respect for the teacher. It’s not really different than taking an apple to the lady who leads your Sunday School class. And yet, I am aware she is also sad – in a mask of offense/anger – that I don’t recognize or follow her life-honored belief that Jesus is the only way and the only one. 

Truth is – I had the same feelings about her “Pray” bumper sticker as she had about my flowers.  I just waited to get in the car before rolling my eyes.  If acceptance is the lesson, I need to slot myself in the student’s seat, not behind the teacher’s desk. In fact, we all do. Acceptance – recognizing someone’s sovereignty of belief, and dignity of being – frees us from not only the walls built by judgment, but the energy spent on ill will, the time lost to replaying the episode, and the illusion that we are disconnected.  Acceptance allows us to remember we are all in this together.

That’s the difference.  Tolerance is a space you give to others.  Acceptance is a gift you give to yourself which allows you to see the ties between us, no matter how different we are.  Tolerance may spare you from discord but acceptance keeps you from being alone.  

Acceptance is an acquired behavior in our fractured world. Before it becomes a reflex, it will require some exercise, repetition, and reflection.  To be who you are in the world, and letting others be themselves as well, is a treasure way worth the effort.  I’m willing to try. How about you?

With the clear understanding that this kind of thing can happen,

Shall we dance?

Shall we dance?

Shall we dance?

For More Information

There are a number of sources about dharma:

Sing Along:

Shall We Dance

Perspectives

Interconnectedness

By the Book

The Leader's Way: Business, Buddhism and Happiness in an Interconnected World by HH Dalai Lama XIV

 ~

Acceptance:

"Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. It turns what we have into enough, and more. It turns denial into acceptance, chaos to order, confusion to clarity. It can turn a meal into a feast, a house into a home, a stranger into a friend."

Melody Beattie