The Albanian Concept That Completely Changed My Perspective On Gratitude

Bad luck that was meant for you.

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My day today was filled with what we call in Albanian, taksirat. It is the opposite of kismet, which means good luck.

But taksirat isn’t simply bad luck — it's bad luck that was meant for you. It is a test. A test of the strength of our character and faith.

Our taksirat actually started the night before. My husband and I had brought home groceries. I was distractedly putting something away in the silverware drawer at the last second and forgot to pull my thumb out of the way as I slammed the drawer shut.


Oh, I remember. My husband chose that moment to feed the cats and asked me to get him a knife to cut open the cat food bag. I was annoyed at his timing, as already had enough on my plate at the moment. My annoyance certainly came back on me one hundredfold.

The impact of the drawer on my joint hurt so much that I nearly threw up. I couldn’t speak for quite a while. OK, I couldn’t speak after I first yelled at him, saying it was his fault. And then I blamed the cats. Then I sat down and couldn’t speak as the waves of pain began washing over me. 

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I am not a wimp when it comes to pain: I once dropped a large can of peaches on my foot, broke it in two places, and walked on it for a week before finally admitting I needed a doctor. But this pain had me in its grip, and it was all downhill from there.

Even after some Tylenol and ice, I couldn’t sleep. The throbbing was constant. I stayed up way too late watching YouTube videos about the latest world news which upset me even more before finally turning off my phone.

I tried to fall asleep thinking of the plot for my latest novel that I can’t figure out the ending for. Instead of drifting off into dreamland in my make-believe world, my brain kept agonizing over the unknown ending. Eventually, I managed to fall asleep lightly sometime in the early hours.

The 5:30 a.m. alarm was loud and early. I turned it off and rolled over. I didn’t care. I needed sleep.


Even though I needed rest, my brain wouldn’t let me. I turned my phone back on. Bad decision.

I made the mistake of watching more upsetting YouTube videos. Finally, I got up, took one of my prescribed anti-anxiety pills that are for times like this, and ate a bowl of cornflakes. I figured if the medication didn’t lull me to sleep, the carbs would.

Back in bed, I did manage a few hours of sleep, despite the still throbbing hand and crushing anxiety about the state of the world.

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War seems to surround me lately even though it is only on the news. Ukraine seems so close. Now Palestine/Israel. And for the last six months, Kosovo (where I live) has had consistent threats from Serbia. It is exhausting and I'm not even living in the war zones.


I meant to sleep as long as I wanted. I had no plans for the day. The medication should have knocked me out. Apparently, my anxiety was so high that it just barely soothed me. I woke up after only a couple of hours. Trying to sleep more seemed pointless — and lazy.

As much as things in the world and society at large seem to suck right now, I'm trying to make myself remember that many, many people have it so much worse today. My hand will heal —it doesn’t appear that I broke anything — and typing is tolerable. I have clothes and clean water to wash them in. Even if I spill, I have food and drink. I am better off than a lot of the world.

I am grateful for my taksirat. Without the trying times, how would we ever recognize the good ones?

I don’t wish to take anything for granted. I'm getting older. I want to savor whatever time I have left — even the unsavory moments.


As I see it, the trying times prove who we are because they show our character and our strengths.

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Though my anxiety is sky-high and my soul is steeped in fear, I can recognize that when I look outside, things are okay.

I am safe — and I'm grateful for that. Alhamdulillah, as we say in my religion. It means "Thank you, God." I pray for those who aren’t okay. My annoying day is nothing compared to many others' actual bad days today.


I pray that I am actually the good person that I want to be, that I think I am. Because at the root of all of the world’s issues are individual human beings, all with good sides and bad sides.

Most of us believe we are good people at heart. But are we, really? How do we react when the chips are down? When taksirat finds us? I know I'm not perfect. I'm ashamed I yelled at my husband when my pain wasn’t his fault. I apologized. He forgave me. He gave me mercy.

We all fail. We all fall. We all are given taksirat. The way to pass the test in hard times is to practice gratitude and give mercy. Maybe if we can all try our best to do this as individuals, we can learn to do it together throughout the world.

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HF Sylaj is an American writer who moved to her husband's homeland in rural Europe where she keeps a flock of chickens and tries to learn the local language. She writes regularly on Medium as well as the Facebook page "This Albanian Life."