Frosted Flakes Are Grrrreat, People Are Grateful

by Richard S. Winer, M.D. | Psychiatry

I have had the opportunity to work with patients who have a variety of conditions. Many of my patients over the years have dealt with substance abuse issues and at one time or another that is what brought them into the office or the hospital. One of the delightful parts of practice is seeing a patient who is in recovery and working his or her program. Acknowledging the problem with alcohol or other substances may be half the battle, but the other half of the battle can sure be a challenge.

There is one word I have heard from many recovering patients that I just don’t hear that often from other people. The word is “grateful” and admittedly it is one of my favorite words. Most of us have used the word when referring to Jerry Garcia and the Grateful Dead. On the one hand, it seems like a funny compound word that is the product of the connected words “great” and “full.” Yet, neither part of the word “grateful” is spelled that way.

People who use the word are first and foremost grateful to be alive. Most have experiences that put them at tremendous risk to themselves and others. Now, they are hoping and working to be on the other side looking back at what has happened while looking ahead to what can be. These patients have told me they were actually grateful for what they went through because they now have a greater appreciation for where they were and where they are. For them, life is now great and they are living a full life.

This reminds me of the Hebrew word “Shalom” that has many different meanings. Many people know it means both hello and goodbye and that it also means peace. Yet, the word “Shalom” comes from the three Hebrew root letters that make up the word “shalem” or full and complete. Maybe this is the message that comes from being grateful. We should try to say goodbye to negative events and say hello to the upcoming days that can make us more at peace with ourselves in living a more complete life. Then, we can be the grateful living.

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