Gratitude is easy when life is going well. We are so quick to say thank you for good things and to praise God for our blessings. Social media is full of people joyfully giving thanks for how blessed they are because of the good and wonderful things happening in their lives.
Life, though, is not always good.
How do we find the goodness and express gratitude when money is tight, our teenagers are being … well, teenagers, the company announced a thousand imminent layoffs and life is basically neither good nor fair. We all have different worries and problems, of course, but not one of us can honestly say that life is great all the time.
And we all struggle with expressing gratitude when there simply seems to be nothing for which to be grateful.
If you feel like you’re being followed by the ominous black cloud of bad luck, then it’s time to find something to be grateful for in your life. The more difficult this seems, the more important it is that you find the time to work on it.
What IS Going Right?
If you’re plagued by negative thoughts, find a quiet place, grab a pen and paper and make a list of answers to this question: What do I have to be grateful for in my life?
Start your list with the most obvious things. That could be your health and family. Do you have a car? A home? Clothes on your back? Food on the table? Do you have friends who love you?
You don’t have to have the fanciest or the most expensive items for you to be grateful. Even if you buy your clothes at Goodwill, at least you’re clothed and warm. A used car in good condition will get you to work just as easily as a brand new car.
A friend of mine, a disabled single mother, whose daughter also suffers from serious health issues, lives in a low rental apartment in my home town. Her home, decorated and furnished entirely from donations and thrift store shopping, is clean and welcoming. Her hospitality and loving, grateful attitude, is contagious. She glows with gratitude for the simplest blessings in her life.
Another woman I know, seriously injured in a child when she was playing on the train tracks, counts blessings that most of us would not consider. A mechanical wheelchair. Friendly townspeople. A snow-free day so that she can get outside.
Don’t forget to give thanks for the small things in life, such as finding the car keys in time to get to work or getting a restful night sleep before an important day.
You can also try to sit quietly in a room and meditate on your life and things you want to improve on. The first step to improving your life is being grateful for what you currently have.
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Being Grateful In Spite of Problems
One of the lesser known facts about me is that I have a passion for classic children’s literature. (Yes, I’m going somewhere with this) That’s why I tend to recommend strange, barely known novels to people. And I’m going to do it again.
In the novel Polyanna , which I think everyone should read, a young orphan girl goes to live with her cold and duty-bound aunt Polly. While there she shares The Glad Game, taught to her by her missionary father when she received crutches in the missionary box instead of the doll she wanted. Despite her disappointment, she could still be glad of something – she could be glad she didn’t need the crutches.
Admittedly, sometimes The Glad Game requires that you stretch, but there is usually a silver lining in every difficulty.
If you’ve lost your job, there will be a time of anger and grief and worry, but don’t let that define you. We have been through that several times, wondering just what the future would look like when a good job disappeared. Take the time to look at the positives. Assess your skills and be thankful for them. Perhaps this is an opportunity to find a job that is closer to home, one that pays better or has more comprehensive benefits, or simply one that brings you more daily enjoyment.
As strange as it may sound in the moment of despair, try to be grateful during difficult times because, as one door closes, another opens the way to new opportunities. After all, you can’t find bright new possibilities in your life if you don’t experience a setback at one point or another.
Be Thankful For Life’s Setbacks
Setbacks, if you allow them, challenge you to be better, stronger, faster, and wiser. The true test of your attitude is to be thankful for the obstacle ahead of you (even if you don’t understand why it exists in the first place), then push forward, stronger than ever.
With each challenge you overcome, you gain the wisdom and courage to succeed the next time around. And if it weren’t for each and every challenge in your life, you’d never learn and grow!
Being grateful everyday will help you lift that overbearing black cloud that can be so stifling.
You’ll begin realize that life is good and you can make it through anything.0