My old friend Hubert Selby Jr. gave me some great advice one time when I was stressing out over debt and no work and raising two teenagers on my own and no relief in sight. He told me that if I got a check in the mail for a hundred bucks to get down on my knees and thank God for the blessing. But also, if I got a bill in the mail for a hundred dollars to get down on my knees and thank God for the blessing.
I got angry and told him I didn't see how a bill was a blessing when I was broke, in debt, and worried my landlord would kick me and my kids out, or that I wouldn't be able to pay the electric bill etc. etc. But I loved the guy and trusted his experience with similar troubles. So I tried it. Angrily, sarcastically, and begrudgingly.
To my surprise, it worked. Eventually. The more I did it, the better it worked (though I didn't always do it on my knees, and I'm not even certain that was part of his advice now).
There's no quid pro quo in spiritual practice, and from my experience and beliefs there shouldn't be, but—interestingly, the more I did that, the more my troubles didn't seem so insurmountable and as a result the less stressed I was and the more solutions to my troubles not only seemed possible but probable.
I've been doing that for decades now, and this past almost month (a month since the brain surgery tomorrow) I've been doing it every day and meaning it. Totally grateful for exactly what I was experiencing and being given by life for that day, and it has paid off wonderfully. Not because every day I have been getting better and more and more of my motor skills and cognitive abilities have been returning to me, but because I have been totally accepting of the limitations the operation has imposed on me and genuinely grateful for them and for the whole crazy trip.
I pray that I can stay that way no matter what the future brings—grateful for it all, especially for my old friend "Cubby"!