Every now and then, we’re faced with some misfortune. Sometimes it’s just a trite bother and largely forgettable. At other times it’s significant enough to shift the very understanding we have of our world. Nothing’s the same now.
Well, believe it or not, when we feel adrift and lost, one of the best things we can do is turn to gratitude. You may ask why on earth would we be giving thanks for some grand obstruction to our lives? It feels more counterintuitive and nonsensical than anything else. Aren’t we supposed to be wondering, angst-ridden and bereft, why is this happening to us? In answer, no. Now, it really is the time to be grateful. Let’s take a look.
Feeling Like the World Is Against Use
When we’re thrown to the ground by some unexpected misfortune, our primary focus is on what’s gone wrong. Our heads are swirling with the fact we may have just lost our job. Maybe the one and only love of our lives is now gone. For some of us, the good health we always thought we enjoyed is apparently now thing of the past and so on.
As we know, misery loves company. We’re already feeling bad and so, soon enough, we identify yet more reasons our life is not going well. Like a row of dominoes, our feelings of misfortune gathers steam. So, we’re livid with that person who cut us off and then stole the parking space that should be ours. We so desperately wanted to enjoy that meal, but half-way through, we started to suffer indigestion. Typical. Our spouse put the garbage out too late as we watch the truck rumble off without our garbage.
Needless, to say, these aren’t the real problems. Although, they further our dejection and frustration with life in general. How can we make it stop? Gratitude, you say?
Where Gratitude Comes In
How does that fit? It doesn’t even seem to make sense. Our minds are focussed on everything that’s gone wrong in our lives. But now, it’s an opportunity to forcefully alter our perspective and turn everything on its head. It’s a matter of searching through our life and finding everything that’s gone well—small or large.
Start simple. That perfect cup of tea we had yesterday morning was superb and steeped to perfection. The sun just came out briefly this afternoon as the clouds cleared, a beautiful blue sky in its wake. Three days ago, we successfully made the bread we’ve been dying to try. We knew it’d be tricky, but we did it. And we recall walking down the lane a few weeks ago, those pink and purple crocuses pushing through the snow were a sight to behold.
At other times, when someone did something entirely unintended, a light of goodness has shone upon us—a random act of kindness for which we’re now immensely grateful. Otherwise, it could’ve been the time that person tried to help us find the earring we’d lost. In the end, even though they failed in doing so, we’re grateful for them trying. We were still grateful for the intention. All of these feelings of gratitude illuminate something of crucial importance in our lives—connections. And, in my opinion, that’s what being grateful is all about.
What Is Gratitude?
What we’re doing when we show our gratitude is simply focus on all those myriad connections that inherently bind us to our world. In actual fact, by being grateful, we shed critical light on the vast array of intangible guy wires—connections—supporting us. While always present, they’re just out of sight most of the time.
Each of the actions for which we’re grateful, every one is an intangible guy wire giving us support. In their own way, those connections are always there, yielding its support and strength. They hold us up when we’re about to fall. It’s just that we don’t always realise or recognise the presence of those connections. It’s at that moment it dawns on us we’re not standing on our own. And in fact, we never have been.
Once we finally recognise the connections supporting us, it helps to bolster and enhance the links we have with the people in our lives. Again, feelings of gratitude which are a reflection of the connections in our lives are of benefit. They help us realise those relationships have always been there for us.
We’ve now been given reason to further strengthen them. So feelings of gratitude encourage us to seek our the family members and friends who’ve always supported us, the ones with whom we feel a true connection.
Feeling gratitude naturally motivates us for the same reason. It’s more a matter of celebrating the connections giving us strength. Now is the opportunity to take the actions we’ve always dreamed of doing.
Gratitude is about acknowledging the goodness in ourselves. And secondly, it’s about recognising there is goodness that comes from outside ourselves. Again, that’s simply because our essence—who we are—is reliant on the host of connections that link us to our world.
A Nod From Religions
Much of this is nothing new. Individuals who practice Judaism begin their days with Modeh Ani. This is a short Hebrew blessing giving thanks to God for life. Christians meanwhile give gratitude to their God by stating blessings.
Finally, Buddhists recognise gratitude as a concept of origination. As far as they’re concerned, everything is interconnected. Awareness of our interdependence and interconnection is a reflection of gratitude for the web of life that sustains us. These are the intangible guy wires supporting us when we utter words or thoughts of gratitude.
Gratitude is Central
Gratitude must always play a central role in how we conduct our lives. It’s about being thankful for the vast plenitude of connections at the heart of everything we do. Gratitude is about who we are.