Let’s discuss what it really means to be grateful.
Sure, the birthday present, the unexpected surprise planned by a loved one, the raise given by our employer, these are all easy moments for which to be grateful.
But what about the rest of the moments in our days?
What about the boring spells, the trying times? How about the fights with friends, misunderstandings with partners, the escalation of fears in harrowing events? Are we grateful for these instances? Are there any reasons to find gratitude for life’s most trying moments?
I enthusiastically say, “Yes!”
And here’s why…
Inside each and every one of us are little pockets of energy. They are accumulated from life events, and a great number of them arrived with us when we were born. These little pockets attract certain life events to occur. They attract people we need to meet, challenges we must face, and blessings that will grace us.
And there’s a big reason why they do this: every single event that occurs in our lives must happen in order for that energy within us to break apart and become free-flowing. We attract life situations that make us free through their happening.
That award you got in school could be there to teach you about self-reliance and maintaining humility under great acclaim. Maybe that broken bone was the result of some previous life action where you hurt someone else, and now you’re learning to deal gracefully with pain and living gently.
Everything that comes into our lives are lessons that we need to learn in order to evolve.
So that means that nothing is either good or bad. It’s just a tool to help us grow. And when we can see each event with equanimity – neither rejecting or desiring its occurrence – we become healed.
If we can stay open and grateful for every experience, then those little pockets of energy dissolve and we might never have to experience those events again. If we form an emotional attachment – wanting more or less of it – the event will keep reoccurring until we finally let is happen without interference. In this way, as these pockets dissolve, we become gradually more open, free, and happy.
Seldom in life is any experience solely good or bad. Something that starts out as a great deal of fun might eventually turn into a nightmare. Maybe that Academy Award that you so long strived for causes a family member to be robbed. Maybe that partner you begged to come back into your life becomes abusive.
Similarly, highly unpleasant experiences can become great sources of joy later on. That hardship you went through might have proved how lasting and wonderful your friendships with your siblings could be. Maybe that broken bone prevented you from going on a trip where you would have become deathly ill. No one can predict the outcome of events. In the words of Shakespeare’s play Hamlet, “There is nothing either good or bad, but thinking makes it so.”
So this provides us with the tremendous opportunity to just be grateful for every life event. The fun and the not so fun. The painful and the blissful. Everything in the universe has been conspiring to bring you your highest growth and sincerest happiness… if you can just hang on to the state of equanimity.
Every morning I start off my day by feeling gratitude in my heart. I send text messages to people I love, letting them know how happy I am that they are in my life. When harrowing events occur, I simply say, “Thank you for my healing.”
I’m trying to reach a state where every moment in my day, every breath I inhale, reminds me to be grateful. I still have a ways yet to go, but I’m inching continuously closer.
And, oddly enough, it isn’t so much the happy times that are helping me most on this journey. It’s the really hard stuff, where I prove my mettle, prove that I can remain grateful, that shows me how far I’ve come.
Each day, breath by breath, I get a little closer to the goal. One day, I will live in a state of complete thankfulness for everything in my life. I hope to meet you there.
Words and Photo by: Kaelan Strouse