When in the midst of a storm it is hard to feel grateful. As we travel the path life has laid out for us we will run through days of blue skies, cloudy ones, and downpours. Staying focused versus being swayed by each day’s good or chaos is difficult. And to be grateful during times of trouble can seem impossible. But the fact is, if you can find gratitude even in the most terrible of times, you will find solace to comfort you.
So why do I believe this is true? I have faced my share of death, chaos, financial loss, illness and more. Sometimes I created my own woes and other times they came to me from others or events that I had no control of. Until I could grasp the concept of acceptance and gratitude I would unnecessarily struggle with my own thoughts or be influenced by the negativity of others. But when I learned to take time to accept my predicament and be grateful for what I did have is when I began to master my inner turmoil.
So why be grateful when a person has cheated you or wronged you in some way? Why forgive that person? When a police officer pulls you over for speeding, or you get cut off on the freeway, why be grateful? It is easier to be angry and grumble to yourself or others. But that is giving in to your desires that everything should be as you wish it. And if it is not, well then it’s not fair. You are right, many things are not fair to us or to others. Fairness is a concept that can be spun by anyone to suit their needs and wants. However character is not built on being treated fairly all of the time. It is in those times when life is not fair that we are given a gift to learn and grow. No one has control over everything that occurs in their life. Some have money and power, some have deceitful ways to manipulate the situation or person. But eventually the money will not solve it, manipulation loses its effect, and the concept of karma comes into play. Good karma is built on good acts. You can be grateful to that police officer for slowing you down because over the bend you may have had an accident. The person that cheated you taught you a lesson on how to avoid being cheated in the future. And when life is unfair it can make you stronger in character and in determination to succeed.
Practicing gratitude is a skill and a discipline that takes time to learn and needs to be exercised on a regular basis. As I said earlier it is easier to go to anger versus gratitude. That’s human nature. I remember a time when I called a friend and was venting my fears and woes on my current predicament. He listened to me until I got it out of my system and then said. “It’s good that you voiced this but now it’s time to move on. Don’t be the last person to leave the pity party.” At the time I did not like what he said. I continued to grumble to myself after our conversation. But as the anger subsided, and my mind became more rational his words started to take meaning for me. He was right. All the grumbling and moaning will not solve my situation. I did need to get it out to a caring ear. But now it was time to move on. I am still grateful for those wise words. And when I catch myself going down the path of pity it is easier to stop and reflect. This allows me to choose the right path. That is the power of gratitude.
There are many ways to instill gratitude in your life. A friend of mine uses a daily gratitude list (textmyjournal.com/gratitude-journal-prompts/). It is based on a 30 day calendar. It lists random things to be grateful for such as, “What smell are you grateful for…What color are you grateful for…What sound are you grateful for…” at first sight it may seem silly. But my friend found that by using this gratitude tool she was able to better her day and clear her mind to the simple joys that surround her.
Practicing gratitude on a daily basis is not easy. It’s not meant to be. Like any discipline it takes practice and consistency. Don’t worry if you forget to be grateful. We all do. Like trying to stick to a diet we will have those days when we are not perfect. Be grateful though that you can start over tomorrow.