Being thankful for the hard things…

gratitude

This month is a bit bossy in regards to HEAVILY hinting that the world needs to be GRATEFUL. It’s November’s gig…  July has fireworks and patriotism, February has hearts and love, November has turkeys and appreciation. It’s a bit daunting – all of this thanking and appreciating. But it’s also super important.

We teach our kiddos, that it’s crucial to show gratitude – “What do you say?” is asked of them after they receive anything, in hopes that they will use their manners. After birthdays or holidays, the children are expected to write thank you notes, before the new toy is played with or the new clothes are worn. Let the giver know why you enjoyed the gift, how will you use it, why is it special? It’s basic, parenting 101 stuff. And really, kids understand it – they got something cool and they want to show that they like it. It’s pretty easy to be thankful for receiving a new Barbie or Lego set. If you get to have a friend stay the night, parents are thanked over and over.  It’s natural to let good things change our mood and increase our happiness. One thing as a parent that I may need to focus on more, is teaching my kids to learn from and appreciate more the lessons that life teaches us. The ones that may not make us smile. The situations that stretch our patience, limit our funds or break our hearts.

I’m pretty sure you know what I’m getting at. Life has a wonky way of making us learn and grow, and usually, it’s when we are uncomfortable, or in a difficult situation. Thanks, life. When we lose a job or experience a death, we have a lot to say – and “Thank you” isn’t usually on the tip of our tongue. It’s more common to point out the sad, stressful, miserable part of the situation than to find the opportunity to appreciate the gift that has been given. A gift, you may ask?! Yes. Even in our darkest times, there are gifts. The chance to slow down and take a better look at our priorities. The time to look around at the love and support you are being given by the many that cherish you. The second chance that you didn’t even know you needed. A while to contemplate the love you had, or thought you had – and imagine how it can happen again. The moment in time when you decide to change your course, and strive for something better. For these things, we can be grateful.

We don’t always get to choose what is going to happen in our jobs, towns or lives. So much of life is figuring out how to respond to what happens around us. We get to choose how we react. I’m not saying that we shouldn’t ever get mad or upset about a certain turn of events. Trust me, I need time to process things, to be happy/mad/sad or glad. But after the smoke has cleared – take a chance to really look at what happened, what changed, and how has it changed you? Gratitude isn’t only important when we are happy with the situation. It comes in handy when our world is turned upside-down, as well.

So go ahead November – you can continue with your encouragement. If we are only thankful one month out of twelve, it’s better than nothing. But, I have a feeling that we will be looking closer at each and every situation to see how it can teach, encourage and inspire us. It’s not easy and it’s not completely natural, but your heart and mind can be trained to look for the good, and appreciate it – even on the hardest of days. Enjoy an extra piece of pie for all of those thankful thoughts – you deserve it!

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