When we stand in a state of thankfulness for what we currently have, we evade standing in resentment for what we should have had or desperation for what we could potentially have. We tell the universe that we find life to be delicious, which in turn invites in only more beauty to taste.
Living a life of gratitude is a committed practice, which can come in the form of daily gratitude lists, affirmations, or simply subtle mindset shifts. Less complaining, more reflecting. This way of living is a quest we’re all begging to conquer, but what happens when life is asking of you to begin expressing that same gratitude for the stuff that’s broken you?
Saying thank you for the bloom of a garden that greets us in the springtime, the adventures full of laughter and first times that find us unexpectedly, the yes that feels like an exhale doesn’t cost us any trouble.
It’s saying thank you for the 5 PM nightfall, the uncomfortable conversations that force a truth you hadn’t scripted and rehearsed yet, the no that feels like a personal war that costs us everything we’ve got.
And why should we thank the awful? Why would we embrace pain, look an intruder in the eye and invite him in for coffee?
Because awful is a choice. The perceived poison of our lives is only so because we’ve decided it to be. We decide this is something that is happening “to” us rather than “for” us because it’s unsettling and challenges our attachment to comfort and emotional safety.
Life’s tower moments make us feel emotions we’ve been conditioned to see as negative, moments that urge us to confront the wounds and triggers associated with said discomfort.
Sure, this is tougher to stomach when we’re confronting grief or deep loss. But these are emotions that seem to be inevitable within the human experience— you can drag it out in resistance to it, or hold its hand and alchemize it into something that deepens you.
The 5 PM nightfall gifts you a chance to spend more evenings at home, less distracted, and more attentive to the nighttime self-care routine you now have a chance to build.
The unexpected uncomfortable conversation is a brutal and necessary lesson in boundaries, in radical self-love, in the hardening of your strength and liberation of your stagnant truth.
And the no that feels like a personal war— well, if you hadn’t grown so much if you hadn’t done so much work on your own personal evolution, that no would have been a people-pleasing yes, and what a beautiful opportunity to be shown just how far you’ve come.
If life weren’t to have these peaks and valleys, we’d remain simple and uninspired. And sure, maybe that’s conceptually inviting— a predictable life lacking challenge and strife. But we’d be missing out on the emotional biodiversity of being human, of the range of feelings we amongst other mammals uniquely sit with. You’d only be able to connect with others on a dermis level because you wouldn’t be able to envision the colors of life they’d open up about, the deeper and darker shades you’d never seen before.
Every trial and tribulation, every pivot and turn, is a winding road that leads you to the evolution of self you would have never met had life not put you through an obstacle course. How can you truly bask in thankfulness for a sweet flavor without knowing what it’s like to be fed sour?
It’s easy to heal when we’re in a therapy session or in our bedrooms journaling. Safe, in control. The real test is when we’re in the eye of a trigger, in the physical experience of it all that life asks of you “Are you really committed? To living a life of full potential, of self-empowerment, of gratitude for every drop of it?”
But what’s most important is that this doesn’t mean to spiritually bypass, or turn the other cheek in the face of abuse. To blindly smile through anguish will only push it down further until it festers and becomes a much larger wound. Acknowledge the envy, the rage, the disappointment, the betrayal, and the suffering. Hold all those responsible accountable and sit with the ick it’s brought you.
The key to living life gratefully is to communicate with your feelings honestly and make sure that the last stage of your grieving process is the sigh of relief that it happened to you. That it brought you an invaluable deepening. That you now have a story to tell.
So take some time to sit with all the ways in which your heartbreaks and failures changed you, awakened a new knowing, and grew you into a new era of self. What they taught you about new boundaries to build, or perhaps ones meant to be demolished, and the reacquaintance of bravery you’d left in childhood.
And maybe, just maybe, you’ll be glad it all happened.