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Transforming Suffering Through Gratitude

Updated: Mar 9

The celebration of Thanksgiving this month brings us an opportunity to focus on gratitude and on what is going well in our lives.  Being grateful when life is going well, is easy to do and most of us can do it effortlessly.  However, when life is challenging and we are facing pain, it’s harder to be grateful.  At the same time gratitude can help us transform our pain if we choose to see pain as an opportunity versus a burden to endure.

We can practice gratitude amidst grief or suffering and be reminded to not lose our joy when we are struggling.  They can both be present.  Gratitude invites us to shift our attention from what is going wrong to what is going right.  I remember going through a very painful moment in my life that had shattered my dreams and the life I thought I had and at the same time I could experience great joy in the presence of my newborn first grandchild.  I remember he was the only thing that would make me smile for a while and I took it as an opportunity to take a respite from my suffering.  I was aware of my pain and my joy being present at the same time.  I was deeply grateful for the blessing of having him in my life.  This experience reminded me that everything works out for our highest good even though we don’t see it at the time we are going through suffering.

It becomes easier to be grateful in difficult times when we have a regular gratitude practice.  When we look at life with eyes of gratitude for simple things as our breath, the joy in a child’s play, our ability to notice a beautiful butterfly can open our hearts wide to receive more experiences to be grateful.

I have had a gratitude practice since I was very young.  As a child, I remember finding something to be grateful about in the midst of the many challenges I faced.  Growing up, my parents fought a lot, and I would focus on giving thanks that I had parents versus focusing on their argument of the day.  We did not have much in my family as I was growing up, but my heart was filled with gratitude for any little things we had.  I remember at nighttime giving thanks that I had a home and a bed where I could rest.  Gratitude enhances our ability to experience happiness and it helps us build self-confidence.  As an adult I learned to be happy and grateful for the things that I wanted to bring into my life.  This opened a whole new world for me.   As soon as I learned it, I embraced it immediately and it has brought much joy into my life.

We now know that making a gratitude list can help us shift our mood into a more positive one.  When feeling discouraged or upset begin to make a list of 100 things that you can express gratitude for and you will notice that halfway through it your mood will be more positive, and you will feel uplifted and more optimistic.

Create a regular gratitude practice, in the morning you can be grateful for the wonderful day you are about to have and at the end of the day you can highlight everything that went well for you.  There is always something to be grateful for.  Our gratitude practice reminds us of the magnificent blessings that surrounds us.  Gratitude is a spiritual practice that connects you deeply and effortlessly with your Creator.

May your grateful heart find peace and joy in your daily life.  Happy Thanksgiving to you and your family!


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