Why is giving thanks for some things so painful?
Perhaps it’s because we’re selective. Yesterday we most likely sat around the table with friends or family and gave thanks for our blessings. It’s a time focused on gratitude for the good things in our life. But what about a counterintuitive kind of gratitude?
Let me explain using the words of the poet Ralph Waldo Emerson. “Cultivate the habit of being grateful for every good thing that comes to you, and to give thanks continuously. And because all things have contributed to your advancement, you should include all things in your gratitude.” The last sentence is where we struggle. Give thanks for all things you may say. Yes. And that’s a counterintuitive and revolutionary kind of gratitude.
Here are a few ways to give thanks even for the difficult experiences in our lives.
1- Want less. Our materialistic and vain culture drives us to want more, consume more, and achieve more. The problem is this pushes into a state of discontent which blocks gratitude.
2- Embrace negative experiences as contributing to who you are. As Emerson said, all things have contributed to our advancement for which we should be grateful. Think back on the hardships that pushed you into new opportunities or made you who you are today. For that, we can give thanks.
3- Focus on others. Focusing on our own obstacles and wants eats away at our souls.
4- Amor Fati..the Latin phrase that in essence means to love or embrace what fate brings your way. It may be painful, unfair, or even our own doing but each experience helped shape us into the person we are today. This requires seeing the big picture. The failed relationship that brought you to meet the love of your life. The failed business venture that led you to a career you are deeply passionate about. The loss of a loved one prompted you to never take anyone for granted and to build stronger relationships.
Selective gratitude just scratches the surface. However, finding a way to be grateful for all things is where our growth begins. And for that, we can be grateful.