Sometimes Gratitude Shows Up Late
Like anyone, I’ve had times in my life when it was hard to be grateful: like the eight or nine months as a poor newlywed living in an ancient camping trailer, in a blustery RV park, surrounded by sand—nearly every morning we woke up with sand in our teeth; or the time I sat helpless in the hospital next to my concussed 11-year-old after she suffered a terrible accident at recess; or when I went through a faith crisis and began to deeply question my religious beliefs. Gratitude doesn’t always come easy; in my case it has shown up months and even years later.
Gratitude Can Take You Places
Life has its lean times, physically, spiritually, mentally, and emotionally. But by remembering that the lean times are opportunities for learning, growth, and development, it becomes easier to feel grateful.
Gratitude can also be an incredible tool for life, if you’re able to keep pride from getting in the way. Gratitude is a launching pad for future growth. For example, if you lost your job, would you spend time being angry at the company or person that let you go, or would you focus on being grateful for what you learned during your employment? The first approach is a solid dead end; but the second approach can really lead somewhere.
The Superpower of Gratitude
We’ve all been around thankless, pessimistic folks. It’s hard to walk away from an encounter with an ungrateful person without feeling a subtle emptiness, like they’ve taken something from you. But if ingratitude and thanklessness leaves us feeling empty and closed off, we can be sure that gratitude and a thankful heart are their shining, glorious opposites. Consider the following:
- Gratitude is attractive. People, who express gratitude for the simple things, like majestic sunsets or their love and appreciation for others are emotionally and spiritually attractive and they’re just plain nice to be around.
- Gratitude strengthens faith. Being grateful has a way of opening up your heart and mind to the goodness surrounding you. It’s a positive, optimistic force that helps you believe that things will always work out for the best. Trusting that there’s a higher power out there that wishes only to bless you and strengthen you, can go a long way in building faith that lasts.
- Gratitude is disarming. When someone is angry, expressing gratitude and appreciation for them can take the edge off of their anger, validate their feelings, and help them calm down.
- Gratitude can serve as a reset button. When you’re hung up on the challenges and injustices of life, gratitude can help you refocus on what’s really important.
- Gratitude gets easier. Like anything, finding things to be grateful for can become second nature when you practice.
- Gratitude makes you more receptive to goodness. A focus on gratitude can help you suddenly appreciate things you haven’t noticed before: your best friend’s contagious smile, the happy wag of your dog’s tail, a refreshing rainstorm—anything! Goodness is everywhere.
- Gratitude helps others see the bright side too. Your optimistic example of pointing out goodness can go a long way for everyone in your circles. Don’t hold back; talk about what makes you laugh, all the things you like, or just good things that happened to you throughout the day. You’re sure to lift someone and make them smile.
Better Late Than Never
I now look back with gratitude for the sand in my teeth because the love of my life was right there with me—and he had sand in his teeth too. I look at my happy, healthy daughter and my heart thrills that she’s still with me, and leading a normal life. Each week I attend my local congregation and I’m thankful for the wonderful gift of being able to choose what I believe. Over time I’ve learned that there’s something special to cherish in every moment and that learning to be grateful is a lot like having an emotional superpower.
Linda Clyde is passionate about faith and the power it has to brighten lives. She’s a wife, mother, writer, beautician, and above all, a believer. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org