One day, a friend called me on the phone. He was going through a difficult time and wondering if and when things would ever turn around and improve. I knew he was in a lot of pain; I didn’t know then that he was considering suicide.
“If you could give a person only one thing to help them,” he said, “what would it be?”
I thought carefully about his question; then I replied, “It’s not one thing. It’s two: gratitude and letting go.” Gratitude for everything, not just the things we consider good or a blessing. And letting go of everything we can’t change.
A few years have passed since that day my friend called me on the phone. His life has turned around. His financial problems have sorted themselves out. His career has shifted. The two very large problems he was facing at that time have both sorted themselves out. The actual process of facing and working through these problems became an important part of redirecting the course of his life.
Someone once asked the artist Georgia O’Keeffe why her paintings magnified the size of small objects—like the petals on a flower—making them appear larger than life, and reduced the size of large objects—like mountains—making them smaller than life.
“Everyone sees the big things,” she said. “But these smaller things are so beautiful and people might not notice them if I didn’t emphasize them.”
That’s the way it is with gratitude and letting go. It’s easy to see the problems in our lives. They’re like mountains. But sometimes we overlook the smaller things; we don’t notice how truly beautiful they are.
Identify problems. Feel feelings.
But if you’re going to make anything bigger than life, let it be the power and simplicity of these two tools: gratitude and letting go.
God, teach me to use gratitude and letting go to reduce the size of my problems.
From the book: More Language of Letting Go
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