Resiliency: Creating perspective with gratitude

GratitudeNothing challenges our beliefs like pain.

Whether physical, mental or emotional, when pain strikes, all bets are off when it comes to what we might have expected in our responses.

That is why it’s crucial for us to have a tool to create context and perspective for those moments. That tool is gratitude.

You cannot be stressed and genuinely grateful at the same time. You cannot be angry and grateful at the same time. They are counter-intuitive emotions. But this is not an easy response trigger to master.

It’s hard to find gratitude when your world seems to be crumbling. And it’s maddening when others tell you about that ridiculous silver lining in your cloud; or that there’s a purpose to everything. Well we know that don’t we? But at that moment, that’s not what we need to hear. What we believe in that moment is that nothing matters except the moment and its pain.

The most helpful thing we can do is to contain the moment and gain some perspective, even distance from the pain.

The fastest path to that wisdom is gratitude. This is not about being grateful for the pain. In fact, sometimes it’s about anything but the pain. Sometimes we need to rest the eyes of our soul for a moment. We need a life lens that takes away the harsh painful glare. Simple gratitude does that for us.

One thing is certain though, gratitude does not always come naturally. It too is a skill that must be honed and developed just like resilience. It is also one of the most vital prerequisites for resilience.

If we are not grateful we will not see the point in creating good. That’s what gratitude is about – finding the good. It may not be about everything in the moment, but it can be about something.

I remember during some dark days when it took all of my strength just to get through the day that the corner of light was always there because of gratitude. It was my diversion from pain to peace. Even if just for a moment, it immersed me in something outside of the pain.

Expressing gratitude for music, the smell of fresh rain; finding joy in language, a child’s laughter, even a stranger’s smile were all life vitamins of peace.

Taking time to seek the good and be grateful begins to balance the scales.

It was during these days that I began a life practice that still sustains me now and that is my gratitude journal. Each day I express gratitude. A journal is a natural expression for me as a writer. It can take many forms but once we develop this life practice the skill becomes a part of us and something very special begins to happen.

We begin to seek the good. We search for those reminders and we find them. After all, whatever it is we seek, that is what we find.

Live (seek) today like you want tomorrow to be. Live (seek) well.

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