Connecting to gratitude is one of the keys to healing, happiness, and moving forward. Although it sounds simple, it is often overlooked and sometimes quite challenging.
The Easy Stuff
It is easy to find good in many things. For instance, having a place to live and food to eat are both good. However, often people take these things for granted or simply accept them without gratitude.
The first step in connecting with gratitude is to start seeing these obviously good things as blessings. Prayer, meditation, notes of gratitude, or any other gratitude ritual will help create the connection to gratitude.
But, what about the bad things in life? Extra work is required to search for something positive worthy of gratitude when considering something that is overall bad. The reason is simple. Being in an emotionally abusive relationship, losing a job, and having an illness rarely have an obvious reason for gratitude. However, connecting to gratitude is very important. Without doing so, truly moving forward is next to impossible.
Learning that these experiences have made you who you are is very important to conquering this challenge. Except in cases where a person loathes themselves, it helps a person gain an understanding that value can come in many packages. To take that next step forward, it is critical to be able to give gratitude for those experiences, no matter how negative the situation.
Looking For The Light
Sometimes it takes a lot of searching to find light in something bad. One way to look at something bad is to look at what good has happened because of the bad situation. For instance, perhaps you wouldn’t have met a certain person, moved to a new city, or looked for a different job if the bad situation hadn’t happened.
For example, when I was a senior in college, a company interviewed me and wanted to hire me. The problem was that because of things going on in their industry they were not allowed to hire anyone. Now, this company was ideal for me. It paid well, had previously hired a lot of people from my college, and their offices where only a couple of hours away from my family.
It wasn’t something terribly bad, but definitely not good either. Fortunately, at the time, I just accepted it as fact and looked at other options. In retrospect, I am grateful that it didn’t work out. If they had been hiring, I likely wouldn’t have pursued working for Bell Labs. Thus, I likely wouldn’t have ended up living in Denver and I would never have met my husband.
People have situations that are much worse than the one I recounted. However, there is almost always something for which to be grateful.
If you are really struggling with finding good about something, it is likely that there are things that you need to let go. Perhaps you haven’t fully let go of a bad relationship or you keep ties to people at a company where you had an awful experience. In these cases, you need to ask if these continued relationships are serving you.
The same can be asked of objects that you choose to keep. If they are a reminder of something negative, ask yourself if you need them in your life today.
Additionally, you may continue to have an emotional attachment to the situation – no matter how bad it was. Anger, frustration, and even love can continue to hold you to the situation.
Once these emotions and other connections to bad situations have been resolved, you will be able to see beyond the negative. At that point, you can see that you became stronger, that your new job really is better for you, or something positive did come from the situation.
It can be very difficult to reach the point of being able to find gratitude for something related to a bad situation. After all, it is all very personal to you.
Forgiveness is Key
One of the keys to being able to express gratitude in negative situations is to forgive those involved in the bad situation. Once you truly forgive them, you can find light in what happened.
This shouldn’t be confused with justifying what happened or forgetting what happened. Neither should it be forgiving the person for their benefit. All of these are unhealthy actions. Instead, it should be forgiving for your benefit. To make you healthy. To make you whole.
Connecting to Gratitude
Start expressing gratitude for the little things and the things that you normally take for granted. Once you are able, express gratitude for the light in the bad things. The more you express gratitude for the light in all things; the more positive things will come your way.