How to Find the Blessings Faster and Why it Matters

How to Find the Blessings Faster

“Enjoy the little things, for one day you may look back and realize they were the big things.”

- Robert Brault

I am usually a champion for the slow approach, for letting things unfold, and for waiting patiently. It’s recently occurred to me that there is an exception to this rule. (isn’t there always?)

This is in no way to diminish the pain that comes when bad things happen.

  • Heartbreak sucks.
  • Watching someone we love suffer is so hard.
  • Disease is painful and sad.
  • Loss hurts through and through.

I’ve experienced all of these things and more, and with each thing comes something bright. I never see it at the beginning, but I’m getting better at seeing it faster. It took me a year to see my MS as a blessing, but in less than 2 months I discovered blessings in dog cancer.

When Guinness was diagnosed with Osteosarcoma in April, our family was devastated. The cancer started in his front right leg and it was so painful that he couldn’t walk without limping and didn’t want to walk very far. Our options were grim. We could opt for amputation or say goodbye to our faithful friend. After researching, and praying and having big conversations, we decided that Guinness still had a few trails to hike in his life. Even if the amputation wouldn’t stop the cancer, it would give him some pain-free time to enjoy his life.

Guinness had his surgery on May 19th and on June 21st he was back on his favorite hiking trail. As soon as we saw his paws in the dirt, and watched him discover all of the scents, sights and blessings of the trail, we knew we had made the right choice.

Guinness and his many blessings.

Guinness finds blessings everywhere and takes time to appreciate them. He doesn’t need to wait for the right time or until he clears his to-do list or feels like it. It comes naturally. With his guidance, I’m learning to do the same.

The Blessings I’ve Noticed in the Past Month

Compassion
My friends and family have cried with us and given us the space to make tough decisions all while reminding us that they love us, love Guinness and want to help how they can. The vets and everyone who works at the University Veterinary Hospital in Salt Lake City fell in love with Guinness, and we fell in love with them. They were professional and did great work, but they were also deeply caring, understanding and available.

When I wrote about how sad I was about Guinness, the outpouring of compassionate comments, emails and messages was overwhelming in the best possible way. You lifted our family when we needed it the most.

Presence
Everyday is extraordinary. Knowing that Guinness may not have many healthy days ahead, we are getting our carpe diem on. We’ve explored the Pipeline trail in Millcreek Canyon, had treats and Liberty Park, played with a ball in a park overlooking the city, jumped in the stream in City Creek Canyon and at Petsmart, Guinness picked out a treat as big as his face.

Even in the down times, in the ordinary moments, during quiet cuddles or naps, we are present and absorbing all of the joy.

Vulnerability
Guinness has no mental or emotional hangups about his missing leg, but not a day goes by when someone doesn’t stop us on our walks to give him some love and ask me his story. For awhile I wanted to make things up and keep it light so I didn’t have to tell the cancer story over and over, but my friend Heidi reminded me how important this story is. To show how happy this dog is even after losing a leg, and how quickly he recovered, might give other people in a similar situation hope and remind them that amputation isn’t as bad as it sounds in most cases.

Often, after being vulnerable, and sharing our story, someone will give me a story back. Our vulnerability invites their vulnerability and with that there is connection, hope and love.

In addition, I’ve noticed blessings like resilience, friendship, and a deeper connection with my husband as we go through this together. And the tiny blessings like having space in my day to go to the park, lay down a blanket, and sit under a tree with my dog.

I notice all of those blessings and more, but only when I’m open. When I’m too focused on the future and what comes next, or thinking about the past and how hard the first few weeks were, I’m not thinking about how blessed I am to have time to experiences simple joys with my dog right now.

I was going to give you a big list of how to find the blessings faster, but this is the very best way …

The best way to find the blessings is to look for them. Be open. Be open through sadness, fear, anger and denial. And the only thing you have to do to be open is to say you are. Say it out loud, write it down, or make it a silent mantra. “I am open. I am open to all of the blessings this situation has to offer.”

Blessings usually never start or appear as blessings, but they will appear. Instead of looking back in 10 years and seeing all of the beauty and blessings you missed, find them faster. Notice them and fully appreciate them. They will ease the pain and give you purpose. They will give you the clarity you need to calm down and engage, and they will quiet your worry and fear.

And if you are really open, they will even make you laugh.

Whatever your struggle is today, claim your openness to the blessings that have yet to appear and then give them room to rush in.

 

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Comments

      • Paula says

        Thank you so much for sharing this story. I’m sure Guinness is a wonderful and happy dog, I wish you all have many many more years to come!
        I adopted two rescue dogs a couple of years ago. They were rescued from a dumpster, and they were diagnosed with distemper. They struggled against this terrible disease for months and they survived.
        Both are healthy and happy now. One of them can’t walk well, his legs do not work properly, but is happy. They are my blessing! <3
        Many blessing to you and your wonderful dog from Argentina! Muchos abrazos!!!

  1. says

    Not sure if I have ever commented before, but your blog inspires me all the time! Thank you for sharing your story and I am so happy Guinness has a new lease on life. I love how you look for blessings even in hardships.

  2. says

    How wonderful that Guinness has recovered quickly from his amputation and is back on the trails again! You’re so right that it’s hard to accept the suffering in this world, but it is a fact of life. When we look for the blessings, suffering becomes our opportunity for transformation. I would never wish suffering on anyone, but if it comes it makes sense to use it in the best way possible.

  3. Dawn says

    Thanks for the Guinness update. I was wondering what you decided and so glad you made this choice and that you, your family and beloved pup are making the most of every day. I am so genuinely happy for you.

  4. says

    What a beautiful post! Dogs are amazing. I’m a proud owner of one and I’m learning a lot from her. My hugs and kisses to Guiness andm y love to you and your family. Stay blessed!

  5. Bre says

    Oh those pictures made me tear up! What a sweet, handsome dog – so glad he’s doing okay. I want to cuddle him, too! My cat is my baby, and if anything happened to her I’d be devastated. But every day I snuggle with her and scratch her ears and am so grateful she’s my little companion. Thank you for reminding me to see blessings everywhere!

  6. Eileen says

    What a beautiful story! Guinness is adorable. You and your family are wonderful people to take such good care of Guinness when he is sick. I wish you all have many many more happy days and years to come! :-)

    • Courtney Carver says

      Thank you Eileen. He has given us so much and we are more than happy to give him whatever he needs.

  7. Angeline says

    Oh how I so needed this!!!!! I have had a ROUGH couple of weeks with such sad news from every direction from my mom being diagnosed with cirrohsis to just finding out my dad’s house being totally destroyed by a fire last night (they are ok). I have been trying to do things differently in the last few years, a pessimist by nature, I have been trying to convert to an optimist but when things get as rough as they have been lately it is so very easy to revert to old ways. I know when I count my blessings and see the good in situations I am a better person and my life is happier but like I said old habits are hard to break. This post gave me the inspiration to see that among the bad stuff we can still see the blessings if we just look for them and more importantly we need to acknowledge them in order for us to fully appreciate them. Thank you for throwing me the life line when it was most needed.

    • Courtney Carver says

      Angeline, so sorry to hear about all of those very rough things. Keep working on the shift. It’s all a practice.

  8. says

    c., you already know how happy i am for you and guinness… i love this post, and these great photos of g. make me really, really happy.

    xo.

  9. Ron Nilson says

    Thank you for sharing, Courtney. Our animal companions, in all their shapes and forms, are a blessing. The ones I’ve been blessed to have in my life are counted among my most influential teachers! It’s sad that there still are people who can’t see their value beyond things to be used and exploited. Those who have allowed themselves to have a heart-centered relationship with an animal as a being with a personality, know their consciousness has been raised as a result.

  10. says

    Absolutely beautiful post. Your outlook on life is truly inspirational. Thank you for sharing your experiences and the wisdom you’ve gained through them. Guinness is clearly a wonderful (and happy!) dog. It never ceases to amaze me how God can take seemingly horrible circumstances and bring joy and hope and truth out of them.

  11. Bridget says

    Thank you for making me stop a while and get a grip with what is really important,
    Wishing you many,many more moments on the Trails with Guinness.

  12. says

    Thank you Courtney, this post is really relevant to me at the moment as we care for our increasingly elderly cat (she’s 20!). We’ve had a bit of a health scare recently with her and although, like you with Guinness, we are back on an even keel for now, I feel so aware that time is getting ever shorter and that we need to cherish every moment and count our blessings for what we have now. It’s sometimes hard though, isn’t it, to do this when you’re going through an almost pre-grief stage as you know what’s inevitably coming in the not too distance future. Thank you for reminding me again and inspiring me to keep focused and present, after all life is for living! Much love to you & that lovely pup xx

  13. says

    Thank you Courtney, this post is really relevant to me at the moment as we care for our increasingly elderly cat (she’s 20!). We’ve had a bit of a health scare recently with her and although, like you with Guinness, we are back on an even keel for now, I feel so aware that time is getting ever shorter and that we need to cherish every moment and count our blessings for what we have now. It’s sometimes hard though, isn’t it, to do this when you’re going through an almost pre-grief stage as you know what’s inevitably coming in the not too distance future. Thank you for reminding me again and inspiring me to keep focused and present, after all life is for living! Much love to you & that lovely pup xx

  14. Flor says

    love, love, the last shot of Guinness, so much personality. My 12 year old dog died 4 years ago his name was Kobe ( yellow lab), I still find his fur all over . Dog are really man’s best friend.

  15. Ana says

    My sweet Bella taught me the same lessons. Her cancer was in her liver and because I was given little hope with a surgery (and she was 13) I decided just to let her enjoy her days. We had an amazing 5 months together in which we did her favorite things often. I learned to live in the moment and be grateful for every day with her.

  16. says

    I loved the things you have learned from Guinness and through his illness and treatment. We had a dog that taught me much as well. I hope Guinness lives many more years and that you both give each other love and comfort. x

  17. says

    Hello Courtney,

    Great post! It really resonates with me on several levels.

    I’m going through some similar problems with my dog Corky. He’s about 14 years old, starting to have some health problems, namely Cushings disease and arthritis. This wonderful dog has followed me around since the day we brought him home from his “foster family” (he’s a rescued Springer Spaniel). Now with the arthritis, you can almost feel his pain as he gets up and down. Nonetheless, as soon as he notices me moving to a new location, he struggles up and follows. (So far his new arthritis medicine doesn’t seem to be helping.)

    What you say about recognizing the blessings sooner makes so much sense. Another writer, whose name I have forgotten, said that at any point in our lives, we will have good and bad, but we should always recognize and appreciate the good. I wrote a post called “Don’t Miss The Good Stuff”
    Perhaps you and your readers would like to read it.

    Cheers!

  18. says

    Hi! I’m new to reading your blog and right now I can’t remember where I first saw the link… I like it though! I’m writing about your dog! I’m amazed because he looks so much like our dog! Do you know what breed he is? Our dog was given to us by a friend, so I’ve never really known but suspect it’s some sort of terrier? Any info would be appreciated!

  19. Paula says

    Thank you so much for sharing this story. I’m sure Guinness is a wonderful and happy dog, I wish you all have many many more years to come!
    I adopted two rescue dogs a couple of years ago. They were rescued from a dumpster, and they were diagnosed with distemper. They struggled against this terrible disease for months and they survived.
    Both are healthy and happy now. One of them can’t walk well, his legs do not work properly, but is happy. They are my blessing! <3
    Many blessing to you and your wonderful dog from Argentina! Muchos abrazos!!!

  20. says

    This is such a beautiful, heart warming post.

    I also liked how you said the best way to find the blessings is to look for them. Be open through sadness, fear, anger and denial. LOVED the wisdom there. Looking forward to more posts!

  21. says

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  22. says

    I’m a little slow getting to this post, but I believe there was a reason for that. Over the weekend I was faced with the fact that some dear people in my life are aging, then this afternoon one of them was in a severe car accident. While the visit with these folks during the weekend shook me, I see what a blessing getting to see them was. Never take a moment for granted.

  23. says

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