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Duke Ellington spoke playfully about what helped him create his great works of music.

“I merely took the energy it takes to pout and wrote some blues.”

I love what this implies: that there is a way to take the things that are draining our energy—and find in them new sources of creative, joyful energy.

And I don’t think we have to be musical geniuses to do that. I think it’s a human thing.

In other words, there is a way to relax and accept and make use of EVERYTHING that happens in our lives—good and bad.

And, since, this is Thanksgiving week, let’s take this a step further.

Do I dare say that there is even a way to be thankful for everything that has happened in my life?

Obviously, we would never wish for bad things to happen. But we know that Trouble comes into every life without exception. It’s part of being human in this world.

And one thing is for sure: accepting and being grateful is more energizing than being resentful. Forgiving (ourselves and others) is more energizing than regretting.

So perhaps—if we quiet our hearts and minds—we can even be grateful for what we can learn from the Trouble…for the way it helps us grow stronger, wiser, more empathetic…for the way it helps us become a more whole person.

I think Trouble can help us relax and be more grateful for each ordinary moment—when there might not have been a moment.

We can be grateful for the opportunity to participate in this world, a participation which includes joy and trouble just as a great symphony includes dark, somber passages as well as light, joyful ones. As the poet Mary Oliver wrote,

“It’s a serious thing to be alive on this fresh morning in the broken world.”

Today, the  whole world is very interested in finding alternative, natural sources of energy such as wind and solar.

If Ellington is right, we have an alternative source of natural personal energy right under our noses: the acceptance and playful use of even the things that get us down.