Photo Tulips in the city 2 by Marinela ProdanBe thankful for what you have. A familiar piece of advice, especially if you’ve ever been unable to obtain something you really wanted. Or, found yourself in an unexpected situation, usually one with negative connotations, from which you saw no way out. Perhaps you heard that timeless phrase when you complained about insert whine here. (Complaining is related to worry and those are two relatives you don’t want to invite over!)

But it is in those troubled moments – the times when you’re pushed to the limits of your ability to cope – that gratitude is needed most.

Let us rise up and be thankful, for if we didn’t learn a lot today, at least we learned a little, and if we didn’t learn a little, at least we didn’t get sick, and if we got sick, at least we didn’t die; so, let us all be thankful. ~ Buddha

When you can’t pay your bills, be thankful. If your car won’t start and you’ll be late for work, be grateful. Are you exhausted from working 14 hours straight? Be thankful! For in those instants life is offering you a choice: transform your problem into an opportunity for gratitude (and so much more) or drown in a sea of self-pity and sorrow.

So what’s to be thankful for when you’ve run out of money and can’t buy food for another three days?

Do you have a place to sleep? How about clothes to wear while you work a job to earn more money to buy food? Are your legs able to carry you to a soup kitchen to grab a free meal? And the biggest reason to be grateful? Well, you’re alive aren’t you? Every day you’re breathing means you still have the opportunity to improve your life.

Give thanks for a little and you will find a lot. ~ The Hausa of Nigeria

It’s super easy to lose yourself in the details of the obstacle with which you’re faced – to not see the forest for the trees – but, ultimately, it’s your choice to either accept the circumstance or change it. And the ability to use gratitude as a tool to cope is a skill anyone can (and should) learn. Once you’ve learned it, gratitude becomes second nature; it becomes a part of who you are.

When you hit a roadblock along your journey, be thankful for…

(1) The opportunity to test your inner strength and perseverance.

(2) The opportunity to slow down and reassess the path you’re on. Many journeys require us to take an unexpected turn, change directions, and even jump over to a different path altogether.

(3) The fact that nothing is permanent and this too shall pass. That is, if you choose action over intention.

(4) The fact that your current obstacle isn’t bigger, deeper, wider. Can’t buy those cute $200 shoes the fashionistas rave about? Well someone in your community can’t buy their kid a winter coat. Things could always be worse.

(5) The fact that you’re still alive.

In other words, when life gives you lemons, be thankful! After all, there’s a lot you can do with lemons given a positive attitude and creative thinking.

Photo credit: Marinela Prodan

1 Comment

ekcarmel · December 2, 2010 at 9:35 AM

“Can’t buy those cute $200 shoes the fashionistas rave about? Well someone in your community can’t buy their kid a winter coat. Things could always be worse.”

So absolutely true! I think about it often and see it nearly every day.

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