snoopy and woodstock thanksgiving

Here in the United States, Thanksgiving is the time of year where we traditionally reflect on our lives and consider all that we are grateful for. Being able to appreciate what you have is a valuable skill. In a New York Times article, John Tierny states that the positive attitude that comes from cultivating an “attitude of gratitude” has been linked to better health, more restful slumber, and kinder behavior, among other things.

Ectodermal dysplasias can bring a host of “problems” into one’s life. Challenges range from seemingly minor inconveniences, like dry skin and brittle hair to more serious issues like dental work and surgery to even more severe situations like infections or organ malfunctions. There is plenty to complain about and feel shorted on. It’s easy to take on the role of victim if you’re so inclined. However, I’ve found that the majority of people with ectodermal dysplasias that I’ve met aren’t likely to complain about it. Sure, we share stories of some of the crazy things we’ve gone through, but it is in a spirit of sharing and helping each other out. As I heard said in a TED talk recently, gratitude replaces victimhood with joy. When you take time to consider your blessings and all of the things you are grateful for, it becomes harder and harder to feel sorry for yourself.

When we try to pick out anything by itself, we find it hitched to everything else in the Universe.   – John Muir

This is one of my favorite quotes because it reminds me that everything is connected. Once you start looking at the things in life you are grateful for, it is like pulling on a thread from a sweater. One thing leads to another, and you begin to see that everything has led you to where you are now. Even though some of those experiences may have been unpleasant, it is through the difficulties of life that we become stronger.

While I can only speak for myself, I can say that I am grateful for many things in my life. I am grateful for the loving and nurturing family I was born into. I’m grateful that I’ve had access to skilled doctors and medical facilities throughout my life. I am grateful to have found a partner who is understanding and supportive. I am grateful to the NFED for providing opportunities for so many people to connect. Whether it be at a family conference, on Facebook or through a simple phone call, the lives of countless people have been positively affected because of the NFED. I am grateful to all of the staff and volunteers who work so hard to keep it all going. I am so grateful for opportunity to volunteer with the NFED and for all of the friends I have met through doing so. I can even say that I am grateful to have EEC, because it has made me unique, it has made me stronger and it has given me a special bond with the handful of other people who have ECC too.

Do you want to know more about how to cultivate a grateful attitude? Have a look at the links below for inspiration.

Keep a Gratitude Journal

Fostering Gratitude in Kids

Three Keys of Gratitude to Unlock a Happy Life (Jane Ransom TED Talk)

Gratitude and Happiness (Louie Schwartzberg TED Talk)

Happy Thanksgiving! May your sources of gratitude be limitless.

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