Earlier this week, I read this question on Gratefulness.org, “How do you nurture your practice of gratefulness when life is difficult?”

Good question! Even though it’s not been a long week I have had to navigate difficulties just like you, and here is what I have come up with:gratefulness

RETURNING TO GRATEFULNESS BRINGS ME RELIEF.

When I was feeling cranky on Easter Sunday (yeah, not my shiniest moment), I was able to get a handle on myself by choosing to focus on things I am grateful for.

GRATEFULNESS BRINGS ME RELIEF FROM MY COMPLAINTS AND CONCERNS.

Then I noticed, that while I was feeling grumbly, I was also kicking myself for those cranky feelings, which wasn’t helping. This is what Thich Nhat Hanh describes as getting shot in the same spot twice- except we are the ones usually doing this and increasing our own suffering.  That is exactly what I was doing.

Then I remembered, we all have a hard-wired negativity bias – we tend to notice what can or does go wrong, in order to stay alive. It’s biologically driven.  That doesn’t mean we get a free pass for negative thinking though.  We can WAKE UP to the truth that focusing on the negative makes us feel like total crap.  Really, it does. It doesn’t feel good at all, if you are really honest with yourself.

Letting go of complaints and worries and negative predictions of the soon or farther-away-future is a really good idea if you want to start feeling better.

NURTURING GRATEFULNESS FEELS LIKE A REFUGE THEN.

It’s not that hard– just notice ONE thing around you that is good.  It’s pretty easy if you focus for just a moment. For me, I am noticing that the air-conditioner (a/c) in my office is working- and I am grateful! On Easter Sunday, the a/c broke at our home, as we were preparing Easter dinner and it was HOT and HUMID in Central Florida that day. So not having a/c sucked, and we complained to ourselves and our guests.  And I felt irritable when I woke up the next day because I slept poorly in our humid house.

But here is where I can turn the tide on my complaints: I can notice that I am GLAD we have a home. And like I said, the a/c is working at my office! So that is good! And I just ate an orange, so I am satiated from hunger right now.  This is GOOD.

I’m not suggesting you try to be Pollyanna about your life. It’s important to acknowledge life’s difficulties, and honor your feelings.  And there are many wonderful practices like EFT-Tapping to help you work through challenging feelings and situations.

What I am suggesting is that we all work to “Return to Love” as Marianne Williamson would say. Gratefulness can help us get there. In A Course in Miracles, it says, “you think have many problems, but you really only have one: your separation from God.” What that means is that when we are in the thick of things (like last night when I had to take my mother to the ER) if we let fear and negativity take over, we will suffer greatly. Fearing & negativity take us away from Love.

BUT IF WE STAY FOCUSED ON WHAT IS GOOD AND TRUE, WE CAN TRANSCEND DIFFICULTIES.

Last night, as I drove to go pick up my mom during this medical crisis, I used EFT-Tapping to acknowledge and then calm my fears.  And then the first thing I did when I saw my mom was to hug her and we said a prayer out loud, “God, lead us to the right doctors tonight. Please help mom be ok and safe, and thank you for her well-being even though she is scared.”  Our fears abated, and we felt buoyed by faith and we used gratefulness to help us navigate the night. It truly helped.

What will help you navigate your day?  Take just a moment to notice one thing you are grateful for.  Breathe it in. Savor it.

May you be safe, happy, healthy and live with ease. Namaste.

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