We’ve all heard about the benefit of living our life with a sense of gratitude.
And, how much happier and healthier we’ll be with an attitude of gratefulness toward what’s in our life each day.
It’s pretty easy, I think, to be grateful when life is going smoothly!
You’re grateful for your loving family and friends. You’re finding joy and meaning in your work. The blossoming flowers and shining sun bring beauty in your life. Your health is strong. All’s well and you’re filled with gratitude for everything.
But what about when things aren’t going so well?
Your health is suffering. Or a relationship is strained. Work is difficult. It’s cold and rainy outside and driving conditions are challenging. During times like these, we sometimes lose sight of what’s still good in our lives.
Thinking back to a time when things were difficult in the past can help us gain insight for the present moment’s difficulties.
Remember a time where you struggled in the past. Maybe an illness? A job that you weren’t offered? A divorce or falling out in a friendship? Now, looking back on that difficult time, think about how far you’ve come.
What did you learn from that situation that helps you now?
How were you able to get through that situation – what resources or gifts did you call upon within yourself?
What positive circumstances are in your life now that might not be there if it hadn’t been for your ability to move through that challenging situation?
We grow and learn over time from our painful experiences. It’s not that they’re not painful while they’re happening. They are! But we gain wisdom and strength having lived through them.
You may have something difficult that’s happening in your life right now. Where are you able to find gratitude even though it’s difficult? Can you be grateful for your courage and perseverance to move forward? Can you be grateful for finding the strength to get up each day? And the fact that you wake up to a brand new day? Maybe you feel gratitude for the help you are receiving to move through the difficult situation?
There’s always something in our lives for which we can be grateful, even in difficult times. It’s not about ignoring our feelings about the challenges or pretending they don’t exist. It’s realizing that we all have challenges in life and they too shall pass.
Just as our moments of happiness and joy pass, so do our moments of pain and suffering. Life doesn’t ever stay the same.
I’m reminded of a Zen story that’s a favorite of mine.
A student went to his meditation teacher and said, "My meditation is horrible! I feel so distracted, or my legs ache, or I'm constantly falling asleep. It's just horrible!"
"It will pass," the teacher said matter-of-factly.
A week later, the student came back to his teacher. "My meditation is wonderful! I feel so aware, so peaceful, so alive! It's just wonderful!'
"It will pass," the teacher replied matter-of-factly.
In every moment, whether that moment’s filled with joy or with suffering, there’s something to be grateful for. And in doing so, we become more balanced, centered, and calm – and even healthier and happier.
Yet, I know, in the midst of a difficult time, it’s sometimes hard to be grateful or even imagine that there could be something that we appreciate.
If it’s too difficult, then let go of something in the present for right now and continue to cultivate gratitude by considering something in the past. Think of what happened in that difficult situation from the past and how you navigated it in the best way possible. In a quiet, relaxed state, contemplate these questions.
Once the wisdom that you gained is illuminated for you, shift back to the present moment. Trust that through the current difficult situation, you’ll also gain wisdom even if it can’t be seen right now.
Feel gratitude for the opportunity to see more deeply the events in your life and the Divine that lives within your life, even when it’s not easy.
“If you concentrate on finding whatever is good in every situation, you will discover that your life will suddenly be filled with gratitude, a feeling that nurtures the soul.” — Rabbi Harold Kushner
Don’t forget to check out the many resources available to support you in your spiritual practice in my Free Healing Library here.
I was born in London, England, educated in Switzerland, and am fluent in English, German, Spanish, and French. I hold a Doctorate in Ministry Degree and Masters Degrees in Counseling Psychology and Education. Also, I am an accomplished artist and educator. I use all of this and much more when helping others heal their souls.