The decision to practice gratitude is one of the simplest and most significant decisions we can make in improving our personal joy, health, peace, contentment and level of inspiration. Gratitude changes our perspective in life, which in turn, changes our lives.
However, it is important to understand that the practice of gratitude does not require that we ignore or deny true feelings of pain or abandon our human emotions. Even when life is lived with inspiration and the best spiritual intentions, grief, suffering and pain still exist.
On the other hand, experiencing grief, suffering and pain does not require that we abandon gratitude. It is possible to experience pain and gratitude at the same time. It is possible to express gratitude through tears.
Here are 7 ideas to help us maintain gratitude during hard times:
- Don’t be afraid to cry. No one likes to cry. But often a good cry leaves us feeling refreshed and clears our perception.
- Spend time with people who care about you. Suffering alone can be overwhelming and blinding. Sharing our suffering with others helps us keep a balanced perspective and lessens the pain.
- Spend some time alone, too. Quiet, uninterrupted moments of solitude can be calming and can help us build our relationship with God. But, if while alone, you begin feeling overwhelmed or stuck, reach out to a friend.
- Write. Writing helps us get a clear picture of any disturbances in our thoughts. It also helps us make conscious choices about where we want to focus our thoughts.
- Pray and meditate. Through prayer and meditation, we build our relationship with God and cultivate hope.
- Be of service. When we help others, we get out of ourselves.
- Seek God’s guidance. Remember that much of our pain comes from a misalignment between our will and the will of God. We are human, and we will find ourselves in conflict with God’s will from time to time. When we find ourselves trying to change things we can not change, latching on to material possessions or living in greed or selfishness, we are often met with pain and misery. But, when we practice aligning our will with God’s will through service, selflessness, prayer and meditation, we will find more joy and contentment.