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Attitude of Gratitude in Any Situation
Gratitude is arguably one of the best possessions for the heart, mind, and soul. The ability to be grateful during challenges is priceless. It’s an expression of appreciation for what you have regardless of your circumstances. Gratitude is the light that allows you to see when surrounded by darkness. People that have survived tremendous adversity often express gratitude so beautifully that it leaves little doubt that gratitude itself was key to their survival. How do they find it despite trauma and disaster? What can you be thankful for when it seems like your losing everything? How can you be grateful in your life when you are not getting what you want? And how can you find gratitude in any situation?
Find The Positive
Ok, so you find yourself in the middle of a terrible situation. Divorce, natural disasters, car wrecks, and depression itself all have one thing in common- there is a tremendous amount of darkness. Darkness takes on many forms from heartbreak to losing everything you own in the blink of an eye. And where there is darkness there is sadness, fear, and anxiety about the future.
Honestly assess what has happened, what is happening, and how this makes you feel. If you are angry, allow yourself to be angry. Practice mindfulness and allow yourself to be in the situation. Only when you fully acknowledge what is going on and how you are feeling can you begin to process and accept the situation.
This leads to the ability to find the positive: Your heart is broken but you have awesome friends that care about you. You lost everything in a flood or a fire but you saved all of your photos that could never be replaced. You wrecked your car and sustained injuries but still have your life. You are battling through depression but find comfort in blankets and music. There is something positive to be found no matter what is happening. Find that tiny bit of positivity and hold onto it with every ounce of your being.
Let There Be Laughter
Now that you’ve honestly assessed the situation and found little bits of positivity, it’s time to find the humor. I realize finding humor when your heart is breaking or when you’ve lost everything seems absurd and impossible but I speak from experience when I tell you it’s neither. Humor is an essential tool in the arsenal of survival. Humor is light in the darkness and it will save you, as it has me, time and time again.
Maybe your situation itself is so awful it’s funny in a “How do these things even happen?” kind of way. Maybe you can find the irony in it all and laugh about that. I’m not suggesting you trade all of your tears for laughter but one or two wouldn’t be a bad idea. If you can’t find humor in your situation, find humor anywhere you can.
Let friends make you laugh, let videos of cats in costumes riding vacuum cleaners make you laugh, let a stand-up comic make you chuckle in spite of yourself. Even if it’s just for a moment, allow yourself to smile and laugh. I promise you’ll feel better and you’ll find yourself slowly having more of those moments. Find those brief moments and hold onto them while you wait out the darkness.
Embrace The Resilience
When you have found the ability to acknowledge the positive and embrace the laughter, you have built the foundation for resilience. In an article by Professor Megan R. Holmes of Case Western Reserve University resilience is defined as “the capacity for successful adaptation in the face of adversity”. It is that bounce back factor that so many survivors of horrible tragedies seem to effortlessly possess. It is that sparkle in their eyes after years spent in darkness.
We all have the ability to be resilient, even when we feel it’s completely impossible. It’s there waiting for you to find and cultivate it. Granted, darkness makes it difficult to find but that doesn’t make it any less present. Let the bits of positivity and laughter provide the light you need to find it.
Chances are you’ve found it in the past. We see it in little kids that grow up in crushing poverty and survive childhoods of ubelievable trauma. You are no different. That little kid is still there, holding onto your bounce back factor should you ever reach inside and decide to use it. Find your seeds of resilience and guard them as they grow in the light you are cultivating. Use your mental toughness to protect your attitude of gratitude.
So you’ve found a few positives, laughed when you could, and embraced your bounce back factor. Now is the time to be thankful for those tiny beams of light. Expressing thankfulness while you are suffering is not an easy thing to do. It might seem trite and forced and that’s okay. Express it anyway.
Allow yourself to say thank you in prayer, in writing, in whatever vehicle of expression you feel most comfortable using. There is always something to be thankful for no matter how bad things get. Maybe all you can muster is a whispered thank you after your first true laugh. Or a thank you mumbled into a tear stained pillow when you realize that you made it out alive.
Look around you and be thankful for something beautiful, bonus points if that something beautiful is you. After all, you are a miracle and you are still standing despite the loss, despite the heartbreak, despite the darkness. Find your thankfulness and fan it like a flame that lights up your tomorrow.
Find Your Tomorrow
Expressing thankfulness will, even accidentally, produce hope. With each expression of thankfulness you are saying to the universe “I acknowledge the good in this”. Acknowledgement of the good allows you to see the possibility of a tomorrow where there are more things to be thankful for.
This powerful light will spread and create a horizon beyond the current darkness and suffering. That powerful light, that horizon of possibility, is what we call hope. When you find hope you find the ability to keep going. It’s the strength that gets you out of bed and the movement propelling you forward when all you want to do is collapse.
Hope is found in the positive, in the laughter, in the resilience, and in the thankfulness. It spreads and lifts and restores. It’s the whisper that says “You’ve got this”. Find your hope and hold onto it like a brilliant lantern tethered to your heart. Let it lift you towards tomorrow.
Gratitude is completely possible in any situation. With positivity, laughter, resilience, and thankfulness you will create the gratitude you need to face anything. Gratitude isn’t something that can be taken from you by anyone or anything. It is the possession that you carry with you everywhere. The more you exercise it the stronger it gets and the more light you create for yourself and those around you. So go out there and shine.