“Be thankful for what you have; you’ll end up having more. If you concentrate on what you don’t have, you will never, ever have enough.” – Oprah Winfrey
I am not someone who believes that everything happens for a reason or that we need to be grateful for everything. Horrible, tragic, unthinkable things happen to people and children everyday around the world. I do not believe these things happen for the reasons of teaching us a lesson or making us a stronger and better person.
We like to have a reason why things happen. We need a way to live through trauma and make it out okay on the other side; we need to find something and anything good to keep us going. That can be a helpful, beautiful and faithful practice but sometimes searching for why is an endless path leading to more tragedy. Sometimes, there is not why except evilness. Shift your focus away from why this happened to how you can properly process and deal with this in your life. It takes strength to surrender and say, “A horrible thing happened that should not have happened. It is in the past, I am here today, alive. What do I need now?”
Sometimes I need to remind myself that life never promises to be fair. In fact, life never promises us anything. I think that is why gratitude is such a powerful, beautiful tool and practice. We are reminded of everything we already have, everything we were given, everything we made or worked for and everyone we have or have had in our life, all which is not promised to us and has the potential to shift at any moment. Practicing gratitude is like learning any new skill; it takes (not a lot of) time, (positive) energy and (persistent) strength but it will become second nature the more you practice. Workout and build your gratitude muscle, then flex that baby all you want to and watch happiness bulge out.
I like to practice gratitude when I practice yoga. I take the time at the end of my practice and I actually start with myself. I am grateful to myself for making time for something so great for my body and my mind, for something that lets my creativity and playfulness arise and keeps me grounded and true. I feel so thankful for all my limbs and working parts and an overall healthy body. I move outward to someone or something outside of the yoga room. It can be anyone or anything. I leave the practice feeling so full of love and appreciation – it is part of that yoga glow, the yoga high.
If you do not practice yoga, anytime really is a great time for gratitude. In the morning, before bed, when you feel you do not have enough or are enough, when you are feeling jealous, when you feel life is unfair, when you feel stuck or when you feel discouraged. It is important to remember to practice gratitude in the good times, too, because everything is constantly changing. If you do not appreciate what you have when you have it, then, like Oprah says, you will never have enough. Practice gratitude when you feel full of life, when you are in love, when you are in a healthy relationship, when you are happy and healthy, when you achieve your goals. Gratitude is a simple tool you can use at anytime of any day to shift your focus in a new, positive direction.
The practice of gratitude was a tool I used when I was digging myself out of the ditch of my depression. I had to be grateful for my life to even start ascent. It was a long, hard climb out and took me many years to finally feel healed and it all started with gratitude.
Not everything has to go in the gratitude box though. I do not believe I was rapped for a reason and I am done searching for a why. I am definitely not grateful that it happened. I am a stronger person from it because of me, not because it happened. I am grateful for myself, for fighting for my voice and power back. I am extremely grateful to the people who were and are here for me. I am grateful if sharing my story can help someone who has been through something similarly horrible. I am grateful that I feel what happened to me is not longer my story; my story is what I did with what happened to me.
I am definitely grateful to you, you wonderful, beautiful spiritual being, for reading this. You encourage and inspire me. What are you grateful for? I would love to hear three things you are thankful for in your life today.
Sending you love and support on your journey,