March 3, 2016

Hip Replacements, Gratitude & Getting the Life We Want.

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As I lie on my pre-operative bed waiting for my hip replacement, I can’t help but wonder why.

“Why was I the one born with deformed hips? I’m not even 40 years old!”

The mental pity-party got worse:

Crippling pain for the last two years.
No running for one and a half years.
Hip reshaping surgery last year—failed.
More time and money for another hip surgery.
Painful rehab.
Two-plus weeks of crutches and pain medications.
Out of shape.
“It’ll take me forever to lose the weight I’ve gained over the past two years.”

I did it. I covered every possible reason why my hip replacement diagnosis was the worst thing ever. I didn’t deserve this.

No surprise, my spirits didn’t magically lift after I dissected how horrible my situation was. Panic struck. I didn’t want to enter surgery under such negative circumstances.

Was there a way I could actually feel grateful for my situation?

On a notepad I scribbled the words, “I’m grateful for:” and allowed my pen to flow easily:

An orthopedic problem, not a terminal disease where I’m fighting for my life.
My surgeon, who’s one of only 10 physicians in the U.S. performing this non-invasive approach.
My ability to run and jump without any restrictions once fully healed.
Our health insurance, so that this surgery won’t financially cripple us.
My young age, which will make this surgery easier.
My parents, who will take our four kids while I heal.
My husband, who will help with the activities I can’t do, like dressing.
The opportunity to finally be pain free again.

Life isn’t about what happens to us; it’s about how we handle what happens.

I could have easily focused on my first list, but chose to focus on my second.

The positive one.

The one that made me feel empowered and grateful.

We have a choice to feel good (to find the good) each day. It is a choice, and we are in control.

Hey, I’m not saying we’re not entitled to a bad day here and there. Life isn’t fair, so living in a constant state of euphoria isn’t reasonable.

But, our culture fosters a built-in bias to see what’s not working and especially what doesn’t measure up.

Constantly focusing on the negative will only send us more Debbie-downer-dark situations we feel helpless to conquer.

Rather than waking up and dissecting the negatives of our day by declaring, “This will be the worst day of my life. I’m over-booked and have nothing to wear,” we can wake up singing, “This is going to be a great day!” no matter how packed our schedule is.


Declare it.

Don’t let the negative-Nelly take over.

Instead of, “I look fat,” every time we look in the mirror, we can give ourself a compliment:

“I’m having an awesome hair day.”
“My eyes look great with this shirt.”
“I feel strong and energetic.”

You are the builder of your life. The more you seize that opportunity by finding gratitude in seemingly bad situations (like hip replacements!) the faster you’ll get what you want in life.

Right now, pick one problem or negative situation in your life that you most want to resolve, and write down 10 things to be grateful for about it.

Your body?
Your job?
Your in-laws?

Keep your list handy, and re-read it the next time you feel those negative thoughts surface.

I promise, with time those negative situations will improve as you focus on the good.


Author: Mariah Dolan

Apprentice Editor: Kristen Bagwill / Editor: Toby Israel

Image: Foundry/Pixabay

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Mariah Dolan