No one wants to endure heartache or suffering. None of us would voluntarily choose to lose our jobs, see our family members struck down by illness, or have a cherished relationship end. But it is often after these times of difficulty, heartache, and anguish that blessings come.
Many believe that strength comes only through struggle. It is a common refrain that what doesn’t kill us only makes us stronger. Ironically, many of us find we become more compassionate, more caring, and better people after we have moved through difficulties or periods of trauma.
We are inspired by the creative ways people facing difficult times have dug beneath the surface to uncover what they are grateful for. They help us find ways to articulate our thankfulness and remind us that no matter what challenge we face in life, rainbows follow clouds and rain.
Sometimes it is in your darkest moments that you need to trust that a power greater than you will help you move out of your despair. How many times have you cried out in anguish, “God, please help me?” and then realized that no matter what is taken away, no matter what hurricane rips through your life, you will survive and you are grateful for everything you have had so far.
When adversity hits your life, sometimes you feel like you have been thrown into a tornado, spun around, shaken up, and spit back out into the world, stripped of what was there before, confused, lost, and afraid of what lies ahead.
Troubled times and new beginnings can be very scary. But for all that you cannot control, as you get up off the mat and move back into life, there is something you can do that will make all the difference in moving on and starting over: giving thanks for those who carried you through the storm and for those who are there to help you begin again.
When you give thanks to those who have been so kind, an attitude of gratitude emerges that helps you reenter life and catapults you from the margins of despair to the center of life and rebirth. As the saying goes, “A door closes, and a window opens.” Those who survive trauma or loss often say it is because they found the fortitude to grieve for their loss and then push forward to begin again.
Here, you can see how after darkness there comes a dawn and a new beginning. Finding gratitude in the unknown, in what lies ahead, can help you shed the burden of the loss to clear space for something better to arrive.
Gratitude Exercise: The Best Case Scenario Handbook
We’ve talked about managing difficult transitional times, but it can be quite illuminating to consider the opposite – what could be the best thing that could possibly happen to you? Write down a list of “best case scenarios” that could happen to you and your loved ones, and then visualize how these things might come to fruition.
Excerpted with permission from The Gratitude Power Workbook: Transform Fear Into Courage, Anger Into Forgiveness, Isolation Into Belonging, by Nina Lesowitz and Mary Beth Sammons (Viva Editions, 2011)