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Bits of Gratitude | What the Pain Leaves Behind

By Nanea Hoffman

For a very long time – until recently, actually, I believed that I had to live without regret. That loving the person I am now and the life I’ve built meant I couldn’t regret any of the pain or the bad choices or the suffering. Because every decision and experience led me to this moment, and this is where I belong.

That’s beautiful, right? And it feels true because it’s such a lovely way to look at the past. If it’s true for you, I respect that. And I kindly invite you to skip this week’s gratitude practice. No hard feelings. Let’s meet back here in the blanket fort next week.

For the rest of you, I have a confession: not only do I find it impossible to live a life without regret, I think it’s total freaking bullshit. OF COURSE I have regrets! Huge, monstrous, uncountable regrets. Opportunities missed. Words that can’t be unsaid. Cringeworthy behavior. Nearly-forgotten decisions that wake me, sweating, from a deep sleep when the memories work their way up to the surface.  And pain? Hell no, I’m not grateful for the pain. Not the self-inflicted kind, nor the kind that’s been visited upon me like a curse flung from a vengeful wizard.

I’m smarter, kinder, more compassionate, and (I hope) a better person than I was when I was younger. Maybe even than I was just a few years ago. But I don’t for one second think that the only way I could have gotten here was by the twisty road I happened to take.


I am grateful for what the pain leaves behind. After a forest fire comes new growth. After an eruption, the lava cools and new land is formed. In the wake of destruction, I’m left with a newfound empathy, space to bear witness, and the knowledge of what I can survive. Eventually, I see a way forward.

Some questions to get you in the grateful space:

  • What is one good thing you learned?
  • What do you love about yourself in the midst of your struggle?
  • How are you different now?

Get printable full-size image here.

Until next week,

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About Nanea Hoffman (287 Articles)
Nanea Hoffman is the founder of Sweatpants & Coffee. She writes, she makes things, and she drinks an inordinate amount of coffee. She is also extremely fond of sweatpants. She believes in love, peace, joy, comfort, and caffeinated beverages.

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