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Another Blog On Gratitude

typewriterI sometimes have clients and people I meet tell me that they inherited certain traits from their parents.

Seldom do they impart this information with a smile on their lips and a sense of gratitude in their voice. The reason being the characteristic in question is always one that they see as being a hindrance rather than benefit.

I hear things like “I get my negative outlook from my mum” or “I get my quick temper from my dad”

Then I get people telling me that it’s because of their parents their life isn’t firing on all cylinders because they followed their wishes in choosing a career, a partner or friends that weren’t suitable for them.

No doubt they will be delighted when they hear their kids saying the same thing in a few years time.

I don’t think I’ve ever complimented somebody and they have shot back with something along the lines of “Well yeh thanks for the compliment, but you really should tell my mum, she was the one that instilled a sense of honesty in me” or “You’re right I am funny, but I can’t take the credit, that comes from my dad”

I’m not blaming anybody for this, I’m not saying that it’s unusual or that I haven’t done the same on occasions, but I am saying it’s a huge shame for two reasons.

Firstly, we are abdicating personal responsibility for our lives and that never augurs well for our future happiness.

Secondly, we are doing a huge disservice to the two people that brought us into this world.

I understand that for the tiny minority of people that were abused by parents that is difficult to embrace and I wouldn’t for one-minute try and persuade them otherwise. Although having said that, the act of forgiveness and letting go can be incredibly powerful and liberating, so it may be worth trying out.

My mum has been really sick for over 6 months now. I have been back to the UK to see her 3 times in as many months and each time when I left I thought I’d not see her again.

Yesterday she was finally relieved of her suffering and slipped away. It was tough being 4,500 miles away because I wanted to be with my family.

When my day died 6 years ago, we all sat round the following day drinking his wine and telling funny stories that involved him and laughed our asses off.

He would have liked that and it was a lot better than feeling miserable. I’ve missed being able to do that although I did get the chance to talk to my sisters and other family members and have a joke.

I’m going to tell you something now that may look cold in print and if you don’t know me, but that’s a risk I’m prepared to take. I phoned my sister this morning to tell her I’d got a flight and chat about funeral arrangements.

She has a restaurant and is a great cook so we plan on inviting friends and family back to her house after the service and she is going to arrange the food. The irony is that she lives in a house that my mum and dad lived in 30 years ago.

It changed hands in between but it was always my mum’s favorite house, so that is quite fitting.

The house is only about 200 yards from the Church and we were discussing how many cars we needed.

I suggested that one was enough for immediate family and everybody else could walk up. “In fact” I said, “Why don’t we save some money, dispense with the cars altogether and just carry her up?” Ju started laughing and said “But what about taking her to the crematorium after?” and I replied, “I dunno, maybe we could mail her in?” We both started laughing and Ju had to explain to other people there what we were laughing at.

I got my sense of humor from my mum and I KNOW she would have appreciated that. I also got my love of socializing and my intelligence, although the latter may have some people raising their eyebrows.

My dad passed away 6 years ago and left me with an ability to talk to anybody, tenacity and a belief in my own abilities. I like the attributes both of my parents left me and I’m grateful for them which is why they are the only ones I’m going to think about.

The last time I saw my mum, when I left her she had a rare moment of clarity. I gave her a hug and she said “Take care of yourself, you’re very special, you know?” She was right, I am very special, and so are you, and so was she.

14 comments to Another Blog On Gratitude

  • Very entertaining read. I don’t find your thoughts about simplifying the funeral process to be cold, but actually spiritual. Your mom’s spirit is not in her body anymore, so why obsess over what happens with the body?

  • Thanks Garrett I appreciate the feedback.

  • Mark

    For what it’s worth, I also don’t believe you are being cold… the fact that you use your humor in your mother’s name is the best way to honor her. Would she really want her death to be a source of grieving for her loved ones? Or would she rather you honor her through making the best of the life that she so lovingly gave you? Life is made best through joy and love. Sometimes we grieve, and there is no shame in that. But there is also no shame in joyfully celebrating life, even that of a lost loved one.

  • What a lovely post! I got my sense of humor and ability to talk to ANYONE from both my parents, and for that I am eternally grateful. As a little girl I would watch my dad charm people for the two minutes in the elevator to the point that they were having dinner with our family later that night. My dad could turn a stranger in to a friend in two minutes or less it seemed.

    I think a lot of times talking to strangers and making them in to friends is very important. It is fun for one thing when you are on a family vacation to have other people to interact with, and as an adult I have found that being friendly and helpful to others always seems to do something wonderful for me as well in the long run.

    So many times people will ask me what I do, and as soon as I say “I’m a naturopathic physician” the next words out of their mouth will be nearly frantic as they want to get my opinion on a long time health problem that has not resolved with standard care.

    Had I never allowed myself to be open and friendly to them, I never would have had the opportunity to make a new friend and help someone with a frustrating problem.

  • Scott

    It’s so true that we often only really appreciate what matters to us when we lose it, or are about to.

    Parents get a hard time. They can do no right and get no thanks, but they are the people in life who are our biggest supporters and, ultimately, want the best for us.

    I’m glad you had the opportunity to say those words of thanks which your mum deserved. It’s sad that we don’t realise how much we ourselves benefit from expressing our gratitude to others who make a difference in our lives.

  • Damn I keep missing these comments to the top posts. Apologies to all of you who commented only to have me ignore you! I’m sure you know I’m not really like that!

    I appreciate all your kind words of support.

    Thanks.

  • A sense of humour during the sad moments of life reflects the overall temperment of a person. If you can laugh a bit, you must understand on some level that somewhere in the future, things will be ok.

    I also believe that no one’s parents give them every tool they need to be a healthy, well-adjusted adult. Some of us get more, some less but our ‘job’ as adults is to go out and find the missing pieces. I never understand how so many people can give their power away so carelessly by holding other people accountable for their actions.

    My parents gave me a mixed bag, some amazing things that haved paved the way for personal and professional success in life and some handicaps that I’ve had to figure out how to overcome, but hey, isn’t that why we’re here?

  • [...] Quit Blaming Your Parents – Blogger and life coach Tim, makes an interesting point that people are more likely to attribute their flaws to their parents, but not their strengths. I don’t thank my parents nearly enough for the fantastic environment I was raised in. [...]

  • @ Formerly Fun – That’s exactly why we’re here! Life’s just a game when all said and done.

  • I am lucky to have two parents who escaped Communism to come to America. And though they lived in relative poverty or modesty, they never acted deprived or wronged. They always felt lucky and blessed to have made it to America and instilled the same feelings in me.

    Allans last blog post..Semper Fidelis

  • Brilliant point, well made.

    Following some lifecoaching, I’ve stopped blaming things on others and started taking some seriously adventurous actions for myself.

    Following a five-month adventure round the world, I’ve returned to a very difficult economy/job market, and, aged 26 and having lived away from home for 13 years, I’m living back with my parents. We’re all having to adjust to one another again. It’s a challenge that we are all slowly rising to! And what is interesting, is that I’m learning that I am more like them than I’ve ever really thought. The good and the not so good. And I’m sure that my hardy attitude and approach to the next few months, when life/jobs are going to be fairly tough, will be greatly helped by the positive attitude that they’ve instilled in me.

    I think keeping a sense of humour and laughing at the small stuff is the most important thing in any situation – so I’m pleased to hear you and your sister were laughing together. Keep it up! :D

    Alexias last blog post..Cheap ‘n’ Quick ‘n’ Cheerful – Carrot & Ginger Soup

  • Great Read, I really enjoyed it. And Unfortunatly it is true that we dont really appreciate what we have until it is taken away from us, which is why it is so important to tell the ones you love how you feel everyday. Thanks for sharing this lovely read!

  • @ Allan – That excellent, sometimes it can be easy to concentrate on what we don’t have rather than be grateful for what we have. Even with current economic climate I wouldn’t want to live anywhere else. Well, maybe my own Caribbean island, but that’s about it ;-)

    @ Alexi – Good for you on ALL fronts. I love it when I hear stories about people getting good results from coaching. Tell the world ;-) Thanks for commenting!

    @ Sharon – Thanks a lot and I certainly try and follow your advice even with my two dogs!

  • [...] Tim by checking out his blog, called The Discomfort Zone (love it!), and be sure to read the post Just Another Blog On Gratitude, where Tim talks about important things such as abdicating personal responsibility, what it's [...]