Pain and Perspective

The last week has been a reminder about how we take for granted certain things that really matter to us. I’ve had this ongoing tooth drama happening since last summer. Most recently the last few weeks I had severe pain in a tooth near the one I had a root canal performed on back in December. The tooth was giving me intense pain when I ate something hot, cold, drank room temperature water, and even simply breathed the outside air (it is “cold” after all relatively speaking to our body’s temperature). Needless to say this was practically nonstop. Tooth Pain and PerspectiveThis got me to thinking about the everyday sort of things that matter to us that we tend to take for granted.

When all is working well — you don’t really think about chewing, drinking, or breathing, do you? Yet, my guess is that if either of these became painful or difficult, you’d notice right away; I know I sure did! Since every little piece of our life is simply a reflection of the bigger picture (and other parts of our lives), I’d say there are probably other things in your life that you take for granted as well (until of course they are broken or gone).

I’ve had this experience not only with my recent tooth pain (and the soreness that is still annoying me post root canal) but in the past when I’ve had other injuries like tearing my Achilles’ tendons, knee injuries, broken wrist, and torn ligaments. Suddenly the simple act of walking from Point A to Point B or writing (of course I broke my dominant hand) becomes painful or not possible. Nothing like this sort of thing to act as a wake up call.

Yet, if you’re anything like me, you only have this awareness until things go back to “normal”. After all it has been 20+ years since I broke my wrist so I don’t think about it at all. We slip back into autopilot and continue on without noticing.

These are just physical examples I share. What about relationships (with yourself or others), more subtle needs (body, mind, and spirit), your finances, or physical surroundings? How much do you notice and appreciate about them? Or, do you wait until things are “broken” or even no longer with you to even notice their existence at all?

While it might seem a little overwhelming to spend time each day in awareness and gratitude of every part of your body, relationships, and other areas of your life, it is possible to cultivate a mindset of just “noticing” and an attitude of gratitude.

Consider this little exercise:

  • Pick one daily ritual for a week and simply feel the gratitude you have for 3 things while you are engaged in that ritual. For example, as you brush your teeth you may express gratitude for your teeth, gums, and mouth.
  • Send an e-mail, card, or phone call to one person that is important to you everyday for two weeks. For example, you can leave a handwritten note for your partner, send a card to a family member, or email/call a friend you haven’t spoken to in a while.

Life can be complex and overwhelming at times. Yet, I believe that if we can stick to small moments of awareness and kindness not only will our days be richer, but we won’t have to wait for something painful to give us perspective on what matters to us.

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