It might seem weird to say I am grateful for food poisoning.
It would be more obvious to say that food poisoning sucks—and that is most definitely also true.
But I did have awful food poisoning this week, and I am in fact grateful for it. Here are six reasons why:
(1) It is a good idea to be grateful for everything, good or bad.
Melody Beattie explains this concept beautifully in her book Make Miracles in 40 Days, but to roughly paraphrase: Gratitude is an energetic freqency—a “high vibe”—and it doesn’t distinguish between “good” and “bad,” it just is. So cultivating it and summoning it whenever possible, for whatever reason, is a smart plan.
If I say I am grateful for something awful, the net energy is still gratitude, and gratitude is always good.
(2) There’s nothing like a sudden health crisis to make you appreciate your health.
I am in awe of my body, both of its ability to VERY effectively and thoroughly respond to the presence of a toxin, and also of the fact that during the majority of times when my body is not fighting quite so hard, it is nonetheless empowering me in oh so many ways.
Being stripped of my energy and abilities for a couple of days was humbling, and therefore a helpful reminder of all that I have to be grateful for. (See #1.)
(3) Food poisoning gave me the chance to see the true color of someone’s character.
I was planning to meet a new friend for a movie, and less than an hour before it was time for me to leave the house, I started feeling ill. Because I’m stubborn and skilled in denial, I went to the movie anyway, and I got sick several times while I was out.
Not the most attractive way to kick off a new relationship, and for sure an embarrassing situation for me to navigate…but this person was unfazed, compassionate, and supportive. I wouldn’t wish my discomfort on anyone, but the acceptance and reassurance I received did give me instant insight into someone I now feel more connected to.
(4) I knew what to do, and I knew it would pass.
Granted, I initially underestimated the severity of my situation. (I wouldn’t have left the house if I’d known better.) But even when things got intense, at no point did I panic. I knew what actions to take, and I had the Internet to provide supplemental guidance.
And not only did I feel calm throughout a distressing ordeal, but I guess years of practicing mindfulness and acceptance have had an impact, because I also had an immediate, deep certainty that “this too shall pass”—even when minutes felt like hours.
The good, the bad, it all goes away. All we really have is the moment, and I am grateful that in the moment of illness, I knew how to care for myself.
(5) To Kill a Mockingbird, This Is Us, The Good Place
I don’t watch a lot of TV, mostly because there are usually ten other things to do. But food poisoning left me unable to do much of anything other than lie listlessly near my laptop and doze in between shows.
So if revisiting a classic film, starting a new drama*, and getting caught up on my current favorite sitcom counts as doing something, then I did a lot while I was sick.
*Note to Parenthood fans: This Is Us is for you.
(6) I love coffee but it does not make me a better person and now I am not drinking it.
Turns out a severely disturbed and sensitive stomach makes it really easy to “just say no” to caffeine. TBD whether I stick to my newfound state of non-jittery calm, but hey, I’m a few days further along then I would have been without food poisoning!
In conclusion, try not to get food poisoning. But be thankful if you do.
I’ll be honest, it wasn’t actually that easy to come up with six reasons I am grateful for food poisoning. Food poisoning sucks. But listing gratitude is a surefire way to feel better, and that’s what I needed, and it worked.
So whether it’s physical illness or mental malaise, the next time you’re feeling low (say, tomorrow?), I encourage you to remember that there is always something to be grateful for—especially since you can even be grateful for feeling low.
Love > fear,