After talking with Suzanne in person for a couple of hours, I asked her how she was feeling, and she said, "I'm still feeling some fear."
I smiled. "You've been afraid for so long—all your life—that it's all you can see. Fear, fear, and more fear—everywhere. You don't even know what 'not afraid' feels like. I'm looking at your face right now, and listening to your tone of voice, and watching your body posture, and I can tell you with one hundred percent certainty that you are FAR less afraid than you were when you first sat down. Two hours ago I thought lightning would come shooting out your ears, and now you're almost unrecognizable. Do you realize that?"
I smiled again, trying not to burst into laughter that might be misunderstood. "Imagine that I give you a beautifully designed and meticulously crafted dress. Exquisite in every way. There are 54,252 individual threads in this dress, but you point to the single broken thread way down at the bottom hem, which is sticking an eighth of an inch above the surface of the rest of the fabric. You don't even notice the beauty of the dress, only the single flawed thread. And that's exactly what you do with the love you're given and any moments of peace you experience."
After talking for a few more minutes I asked her how she felt. "Less afraid," she said.
"I'm happy for you," I said, "but your focus is still on the broken thread. Now you're just acknowledging that it's not sticking out as much as before. If you understand how you're really feeling—which is obvious from all the signs I'm seeing and hearing—you'd say that you felt 'more confident,' not just 'less afraid.' The first phrase is not just more positive—positive thinking by sheer force of will doesn't last long—but more TRUE. 'More confident' is a comment about the entire dress—which is beautiful—rather than an observation about a single thread that constitutes maybe 0.001% of the entire surface area of the gown."
Being grateful isn't about being positive. It's about seeing the truth of what we have—all of it, not just the single broken threads. And this truth will elevate our thinking, change our feelings, and give us the power to behave in more loving ways.