What can help when life feels hard?
There are two frameworks for gratitude.
One framework is “gratitude for”.
This is when we are grateful for the new job or client, or the warm bed we sleep in every night. We can be grateful for so many things.
One way to develop strong “gratitude for” muscles is to keep a gratitude journal for thirty days. Start by writing 5 things you are grateful for. Then every morning and night read your list while feeling gratitude. Add one more item each time you read it. As your list grows this will cause you to stretch and see how much you really do have.
The second framework is “gratitude in”.
This is when we are going through an experience that we would not choose. A break up, an illness, a scary financial time.
Whatever it is, it is not our preference.
This one requires deeper and stronger spiritual muscles.
Apostle Paul was a student of Jesus and because of that he was tortured and put in a Roman prison. From this dark, dank, disease filled place, he wrote,
“I have learned this one thing at least. That in whatever condition I find myself, therein to be grateful.”
He didn’t say therefore to be grateful. It was carefully constructed. He is saying therein to be grateful because of what that does for him. It changes us when we create a generative gratitude. It changes our awareness and that changes how we relate to our circumstances and ultimately changes our experience of it.
Following my only child’s death, I started writing a gratitude list every night. At first it was short. Then I started to look at the gifts that were coming from this experience. I had a courage and strength I hadn’t known before. Life became precious to me and I only wanted to pursue what I loved. I appreciated my loved ones more. I became a more compassionate person. Looking at the gifts kept me from asking the question “why?” And kept me focused on the question, “in what ways can this experience empower and grow me?”
When life throws us a curve ball, we can decide to look at the good in it. We can practice being grateful there-in.
Napoleon Hill, in Think and Grow Rich, wrote
“Every adversity, every failure, every heartache carries with it the seed of an equal or greater benefit. “
But we need to nurture that seed.
There’s a song by Michael Fronte that speaks to this. In it he sings...
“There’s just one thing I got to say. No matter how life is today. Don’t let another moment slip away.”
This reminds me to be present, present to all the good in our lives by generating gratitude.
This is the power of gratitude.
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