It’s important to remember that we can be thankful for literally anything and everything. Of course, we can be thankful for our friends and family, for our significant other, or our children. We can be grateful for our job, home, and pets. But we can also be thankful for a talent, ability, or our knack for comforting others. And even for trials and tribulations. It’s important to get into the habit of practicing gratitude and to remember to be thankful for both blessings and challenges.
That’s right, you can be thankful for hard times and for those who have caused you pain.
In fact, it’s healthy to learn how to be thankful for these things. Learning to express gratitude for experiences that may otherwise break us will help us persevere through the toughest times in our lives and make it to the other side relatively unscathed and stronger, rather than weakened in the battle.
It’s all about reframing our perspective. Instead of allowing a disheartening person, place, or thing to bring us down, we can actively embrace our trials and find the good interwoven in the bad. There is good in every situation, after all, and we will find it if we dig deep enough.
Easier said than done, right?
Perhaps. But, being able to find positivity is a learned behavior we can benefit from and grow through. Harboring ill will and resentment toward those who’ve hurt us is literally bad for the soul. It can hamper our health—physically, mentally, and emotionally. And allowing it to linger and fester inside will continue to hurt us long after it has left the mind of the offender. Therefore, we’re left empty and consumed, carrying the weight alone, because the individual who brought it about has likely long since moved on.
Not only is it unfair to continue to feel afflicted long after this has left the mind of the offender but feeling this way can induce long-lasting depression and anger issues that will inevitably affect interactions with others and limit our ability to feel socially connected. Therefore, we will begin to disconnect from the world around us – or it will disconnect from us – and total isolation is the most painful place to be.
So, how can we learn to love our enemies, as they say? Or at least take some baby steps toward releasing resentment once and for all so we can realize internal peace?
Practicing mindfulness and heartfulness can help. Mindful thinking asks us to consider how we feel in the present moment, and only in the present moment. We are asked to really check in with ourselves. If difficult thoughts enter our mind, we should accept them for what they are, without judgment. We should, instead, welcome the ability to process without self-criticism so we can work out the negative.
Even negative thoughts are helpful for growth. If we allow them to pass through our minds and acknowledge that they’re there rather than attempt to dismiss them, we can work toward shifting our perspective. Brushing negativity under the rug only masks, rather than eliminates, it.
Heartful thinking involves checking in with the heart and our spiritual well-being. When we consider matters of the heart, the ability to practice gratitude becomes particularly important. This is because there truly is such a thing as heartache. We have to acknowledge what hurts our heart and accept that the pain exists in order to move through it and begin to remove the painful pieces. This pain, like the painful thoughts that enter our mind, shouldn’t simply be suppressed. Doing so will only allow it to become unbearable and emotional chaos takes over.
Heartfulness and mindfulness are practiced to ward off isolation, while anger and resentment induce it.
When we can remove the painful pieces from our hearts and minds, and replace these with gratitude, we can move to a better place—and our whole being will begin to heal. Then, and only then, can we begin to truly appreciate life’s blessings.
So, in quiet moments of self-reflection, try practicing these techniques. Then discover what you are grateful for and practice gratitude. Are you thankful for the long walks you’re able to take each night? For the stop you’re able to make at your favorite park on the commute home each day? For the few minutes of peaceful reflection before falling asleep? For your past mistakes and the ability to learn from them? For how much you’ve grown through life’s trials? What are you thankful for?
The more we actively attempt to shift our perspective, the easier it becomes, and the more fulfilling our lives will eventually become as well.