- November 2018
Let’s start by defining both words:
Fortitude is the strength of mind that allows one to ENDURE pain or adversity with COURAGE.
The definition of gratitudeis more familiar to most people. Gratitude is the state of being grateful: the state of THANKFULNESS.
As I pondered the blog post topic or the beginning of the holiday season—Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Year—I went through the choices of just asking readers what they are thankful for, what they have overcome this year, or what they even may be thankful for in advance—their hopes and dreams for the next year.
As usual, as I’ve shared in other blog posts, I get a lot of content for my writing in the shower or very first thing in the morning as I wake up.
So in early October while taking a shower, the combination of the words gratitude and fortitudecame to me out of the blue. Something spoke to me about how much more thankful and appreciative of my life I have become the more I have experienced adversity.
The downs, adversities, disappointments, and pain have really increased my thankfulness quotient. Thankfulness for every single aspect of my life. The more thankful I become, the morefortitude I also develop. The more fortitude I develop, the more thankful I become for my life. One feeds off the other.
So just by the mere action of being grateful for all that I have, I have been able to experience more courage, strength, and confidence to face adversity (also known as fortitude), and I actually view them all as lessons and tools for growth.
If my life had been devoid of adversity, how could I possibly have realized how blessed and well positioned I am?
So instead of asking everyone what they were grateful for, I thought I’d approach it from the gratitude and fortitude dimension.
Going to medical school at age 16 and graduating at 22 was the first step in building up my fortitude quotient. Graduating as an MD despite all the rigors of medical school needed a lot of courage and gratitude.
Leaving my home country of Nigeria at age 23 and moving to the UK, then the US, were not adversities of course, but those moves were brave, and living on three continents with all the cultural and societal changes have certainly helped me develop more fortitude and gratitude.
Going through pregnancy, gaining over 60 pounds each time, having two kids, getting myself back in shape, watching my babies grow up, being a single parent for a very long time, has reinforced my gratitude and fortitude quotients.
Quitting a full-time job as a physician after only nine months of employment, staying unemployed for 15 months while running around getting ready to open my own private practice from scratch, and being pregnant during that 15 month period were some of my strongest teachers of gratitude and fortitude.
Losing loved ones is tough. My sister and father have passed away in the last several years. Difficult to feel gratitude for losing them, but I have learned how to do so by focusing on (1) the roles they played in my life while they were alive, and (2) the many other lives they touched. So my heart is grateful for their lives well lived, and their loss has built up my fortitude.
And, well, last but not least…my divorce. If nothing else will strengthen, increase, and fortify your gratitude and fortitude meters, divorce will. The process that leads you to the decision of divorce, the ups and downs in your marriage, the legal process itself, the concern for your kids’ well-being, the disappointment you experience with friends who take sides…all these will prepare you for anything else in life. However, handling it all as a trouper, thinking positively, praying through it, taking care of your inner and outer peace, and planning for a brighter future all come together to help you be the most grateful you could ever be about life, and to have loads of fortitude.
I thank God every day for that one decision I made. It was tough, but it’s the one soul-freeing decision I’ve ever made for myself and my daughters.
So there you go.
These are my key personal life happenings that have built me up into this person who is full of gratitude for her life and this person who is very courageous about life.
I am thankful for each and every one of these life events. They are who I am. I have no regrets about any of them. They make up my life story. They give me stories to tell and share to help others build fortitude and gratitude in their personal lives.
This holiday season, I will be reflecting on all my life happenings and will continue to thank God for them, to thank Him for strengthening me, giving me courage, and building me up into a woman of fortitude, a woman with lots of gratitude.
A woman whose faith is strong.
A woman who is deeply thankful for her life.
What are your stories of gratitude and fortitude?
What has your life, your past, your present taught you?
Have you learned how to be grateful and fortified for all those happenings in your life? Or are you still feeling regret, remorse, sadness, resentment, anger toward a person or people or situation?
My hope for you is that you can let all those negative feelings out of your heart space and replace them with gratitude, fortitude, and faith.
Happy beginning of holiday season 2018!
May we all be permanently happy by learning to be grateful in all circumstances and then learn to be strong and courageous!