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How My Brain Injury Taught Me Gratitude and To Be in the Moment

by Linda W. Arms – Oct. 13, 2017

After my brain injury, I found myself living in the present moment with a sense of peace.     It is a feeling that I remember even after nearly 12 years of recovery and the pace of my life being much busier.    Because I know the sensation, I find I can go back there when I choose to.     These days, we often read about being in the moment.   Before my brain injury, I read several self-improvement books to help me find peace within myself.    I bought “The Power of Now”, by Eckhart Tolle, but even after reading this and other books like it, I couldn’t find that elusive skill of being in the moment.

The brain injury caused me to lose many things including my career and, for many years, simple skills of reading, speaking, math and other things we take for granted were greatly diminished.     But – I lived in the moment.    I didn’t have a choice.    It was all my brain was capable of doing.   There were many times there were no thoughts in my head.    I just sat and looked at something or, at other times, I would have my eyes closed.

My brain did not have the energy to think about most things.   I worried very little compared to my pre-injury self.    I couldn’t think about the past or future – it was too much work.   I didn’t even try.   My career was a huge part of my life.   Prior to the accident, when there were times I was sick or on vacation, I was always on the job even if it was just in my head.    I tried very hard to quit thinking about work and other things that caused me worry.   I just couldn’t stop those thoughts.

After the accident, the door to the world of my career slammed shut.   I didn’t think about it, didn’t care – it was just gone.     I was always a planner, thinking about upcoming work projects, things to do at home, trips, events and other things I enjoyed putting together.    After the accident, I, the family planner, was gone.    I couldn’t think about the future.   It was all I could do to get through one day let alone think about what needed to be done tomorrow.    I wrote many things down so I wouldn’t forget.

It’s been difficult in recent times to be in the moment because there have been so many demands on me that have been out of my control.   I am extremely more capable of doing things compared to 11 ½ years ago.     Even though life has been very crazy in the last few years, I am very grateful!    I am very grateful because I frequently recognize that I am doing things today that I never dreamed I could do again after my brain injury.   I feel this gratitude so often and acknowledge all the progress I have made in my continuing journey of healing from the brain injury.    Although “having a brain injury never ends”, I believe that the healing never ends.

So after all those self help books that I read prior to my accident, it was the brain injury that taught me about being in the moment and learning true gratitude for things in my life.   This morning, one of the first things I read was a beautiful article by Marc Chernoff, one of the co-writers of the Marc and Angel Life Hacks blog.   It was about allowing the moment to be enough without needing to do anything else with it.   It helped remind me that you can just be – just be in the moment, looking or experiencing something without taking a picture of it, or sharing it with someone else but just savoring it all for yourself.   It reminded me of the earlier years after my brain injury.   Please enjoy his article “One Reality to Accept Before You Can Enjoy Your Best Life.”


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