by Wes Fessler
in Good and Bad Times
November 15 , 2010
A thankful heart is never half-full or half-empty, but always overflowing with love. In difficult times when we are confronted with adversity, we can be blinded by narrowing visions of darkness that cloud our view with negativity. There are times when we become so focused on the darkness and despair of our lives that we are unable to see any light. It is in these difficult days, when darkness prevails over everything we see, that we must take a step back – to expand our perspectives, and to avail ourselves to all that we have to be thankful for, as we realize that the light that has always been shining upon us.
Though a hundred conditions may be working in our favor every day; our focus tends to be drawn in on the two or three that appear to lean toward our detriment. Our vision of life narrows as toward a tunnel, and we see only the darkness therein. There are always reasons to be thankful, though at times the reasons are not as apparent as they are at others. It is important to keep our eyes open to the larger picture, and to take comfort in the fact that though at times we may only see darkness, there is also much light nearby.
Equals and Opposites
In life there is always opposition. For nearly everything we understand to be bad there is also something comparably good. There is reason to cherish every season of life; for without coldness, there is no comfort in warmth, and without darker days, there is no joy in light. We all go through difficult times – some of them more painful and trying than we think we can bear, but everything that we go through is for our learning. When we suffer weakness and discomfort, we can know that it is always possible to find the equivalent of joy and peace. Deepest sorrows and frustrations can be hints that reveal possibilities of greater joys than we have ever known. It is very difficult to find happiness in our sorrow, but there are reasons to be thankful for everything that we experience in our lives.
Thankfulness in Adversity
Every day, almost constantly we are subjected to experiences that we perceive as good and bad. There is always something to be thankful for, although we may not immediately recognize it as such. There are some things that happen to us that seem too painful and unpleasant to ever be thankful for, but in time if we are able to see beyond our pain and grief, we can frequently discover subtle ways that we have grown stronger, or taken new paths to opportunities that we may never have found in any other way.
Choosing to be Thankful
Thankfulness is a conscious decision that is based on optimism. It is a choice to move beyond tunnel vision and to see more frequently the light that surrounds us. While good and bad things happen every day, thankfulness comes by choosing to look for the positive and beneficial aspects of our experiences. While it is always easier to see and dwell on negative events and circumstances, going against the flow and seeking out the positive can lead us to greater happiness. Seeing the positive aspects of life can help us find reasons to be thankful, and can lead us to still more opportunities for happiness and gratitude. Choosing to be thankful, and being able to see the positive in our experiences can help us to be happier; regardless of the good or bad nature of the circumstances we encounter every day.
How to be Thankful
Being thankful in good and bad times requires many of us to modify the way we think. It is an effort to avoid the tendency to be drawn into tunnel vision by the negative circumstances we face from day to day, and rather to seek out the good as well. It is not a matter of running away from our problems, but understanding the nature of what we must deal with, and finding a positive attitude to face and overcome challenges with appreciation of the lessons and growth we can obtain from them.
To be thankful for all of our experiences, we must be willing to work toward gaining something positive from every day. Thankfulness is a process, not an overnight transformation. It is an effort that should be kept simple, so it can be integrated into our lifestyles and ways of thinking. A few ideas for developing thankfulness in life are as follows:
|Three Simple Steps to Thankfulness
Identify Daily Troubles and Consider Potential Benefits
Be aware your thoughts both positive and negative as you navigate each day. If there is anything troubling or negative, determine what makes it so. Consider carefully how to put the worry behind you, while also considering the benefits and lessons you may gain from your experience. Move toward resolution without dwelling in negativity, but rather approaching the situation as optimistically as possible.
Write an Ongoing Thankful List
Take some time to write a numbered list of all of the things for which you are thankful. Write down everything from great favors done for you by friends to simple mundane, everyday things that you appreciate. This list should be recorded in a sturdy notebook, journal, or perhaps on your computer. The point is to be sure it is maintained in a place where you can access it and add to it for a very long time. This thankful list will make you aware of just how many things you have to be thankful for, and it will grow every day.
Find at Least One Thing to be Thankful for Every Day
Begin every day with the intention of discovering at least one thing that you are thankful for. Allow thankfulness to pervade your mind throughout the course of each day. Approaching your day with the intention of looking for something to be thankful for will help you to approach your daily experiences with an optimistic attitude, and make it easier to avoid tunnel vision that makes you dwell upon negativity. At the end of the day, as you lie in bed, reflect on the day and all that has happened. If you have not already done so, identify something that happened during the day for which you are thankful. Add your thankful thought (or more, if you have more than one) to your thankful list.
Don’t shrug this off. Grab a notebook and keep it by your bed, or sit at your computer for a minute every day, and add to your list. You will be amazed as the list grows every day, and as you discover just how much you truly have to be thankful for in life. In difficult times, or even when things are going very well, review the list and everything you have added. By committing to this simple task, you will create a treasure for yourself – a treasure that you can look back on with smiles and ever increasing appreciation for the positive things that you have gained from life.
A thankful heart is always overflowing with love. Follow these simple steps, and you will discover that you can be happier every day and that there are always reasons to be thankful. Thankfulness is a modification of thinking that can modify your thoughts and change your heart. By developing gratitude in our hearts we can avoid the tunnel vision of negativity and embrace the light that is always shining upon us.
More Family Values:
Letting Go of Little Things: Find relief from anger and worry by letting go of little things that bother you in life.
Learning Something New Every Day: Learning something daily that is beneficial to our lives is a possibility, but it is not guaranteed without a conscious effort on our part.
Controlling Thoughts: Mastering our Minds and Thoughts: We evaluate ourselves based on things we do, finding joy and regret in actions, while scarcely noticing that the driving force behind them is our thoughts.