March 7, 2012

{Thank You for Everything}

[This is an excerpt from the "Grateful Heart" section of chapter eight in the upcoming book The End of the Fairy-Tale Bride that uses Princess Diana's life as a backdrop for life lessons for all women.]

I’m reminded of the story—I don’t remember where I first read it—of a Buddhist nun working with people in the direst conditions of poverty and sickness. Yet her mantra, posted where she and everyone who came to her facility could see it, belied her difficult circumstances: “Thank you for everything. I have no complaints whatsoever.” Whenever I’m complaining or feeling blue or unhappy that I can’t afford to buy something I want, I think of this woman’s attitude of gratefulness and I immediately feel blessed.

As I read of Princess Diana’s life after her marriage and various accounts about how she complained (and I’m not saying that everything was easy or rosy for the young princess), but where was her sense of gratitude for this “bounteous privilege,” as Lady Colin Campbell described the lavish circumstances of her life? Diana had landed in the “two most pre-eminent positions open in the world to a woman.” Becoming the Princess of Wales—“with all the glamour, cachet and opportunity that had to offer”—Diana would also become “the Queen Consort of Great Britain, Northern Ireland, Canada, Jamaica and the many other Commonwealth countries which remain monarchies.” Again I underline: position, fame and wealth are not what happiness is all about—this is one of the essential life lessons Diana shared with the world. However, what often gets left out if we find ourselves in unhappy circumstances is gratitude. To be grateful for what we’ve got, acknowledge the abundance that surrounds us, and take responsibility if something is not working out.


Although a teenager star-struck by royalty, Diana enthusiastically went after becoming a princess knowing it was a big job and there would be a price; and the main cost—which was never hidden—would be “paying back the nation for the bounteous privilege that would thereafter be one’s due,” Lady Campbell emphasized. She then reminded readers in her Diana biography that “compared to the concerns of the rest of humanity, a Princess of Wales would have no right to complain.” What the princess would have, the author added, would be “a positive and indubitable obligation…showing appreciation to everyone and everything that had made her good fortune possible.” (i.e.: To have a grateful attitude.)

It may not have been the glittering opulence of royalty that blinded your good sense or intuitive nudges in some decision you made that didn’t work out. It may not have been such a rarified and honored position or proposal as Diana received that you had accepted then realized you made a mistake (for whatever reasons, this was not the life you wanted after all). But if you found yourself in a pickle or simply wanted to change the course of your life, could you do it without blame or anger, without making others wrong? Could you thank the people involved for the opportunity to serve, or the love they shared, or the gifts they gave? Could you even request their support in making your change with grace and appreciation? “Thank you, for everything. I have no complaints whatsoever.” ~


[This is an excerpt from the "Grateful Heart" section of chapter eight in the upcoming book The End of the Fairy-Tale Bride that uses Princess Diana's life as a backdrop for life lessons for all women.]

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