This article is part of a series known as #30DaysOfThanks.
Most often, when we think of the things we are thankful for, we think of the good. Good health, good fortune, and good friends. Those are clear and it’s easy to see why we are grateful for the positivity that lights our path.
While I am also grateful for these things, I am thankful for the tough stuff. It may seem crazy to say, and I definitely do not wish bad things for myself or anyone else, but I try to take a step back to appreciate the bad with the good.
When we just think about good, it can seem like the bad is so much worse, and that nothing positive can come from the darkness. Here, I’m not talking about finding the little pieces of positivity in hard times, though that is important.
I’m saying, “I’m thankful for the rain, so that I can slow down and appreciate the weather, and it can wash away the grime, and nurture the flowers.”
I’m saying, “I’m thankful for that angry man who yelled at me in the subway, so that I reminded how I wish to treat others and be treated, and remember that even if my day isn’t going well, someone else’s could be much worse.”
And even crazier, “I’m thankful for the hectic schedule at work that causes me stress, because I know that I panic when things aren’t perfect and this is helping me learn new ways to adapt and grow.”
We tend to forget that without storms, we cannot grow. It’s important to be like a sunflower, always turning its face towards sunlight, while letting its leaves grab the rain that helps it grow strong. Cheesy? Yes. Difficult? Even more so. Important? Absolutely.
I am the first one in line to the pity party when I’m having a bad day at work, or if nothing is going as planned. That’s the most important time to re-evaluate, and I try to take a deep breath and adjust my attitude. Sometimes, stopping and saying “I’m thankful for…” whatever is irritating you most in that moment, helps you let go of the anger and negativity and turn the situation around.
I challenge all of you, dear readers, to test this out. The next time you feel ready to scream because of the traffic, clench your fists tight and take a deep breath. Then, release your fists as you exhale and say to yourself, either out loud or in your head, “I am thankful for the extra time I get to wake up during my morning commute so that I can be ready for work,” or “I am thankful that I have a car to drive,” or even, “I am thankful that there is this traffic so I can appreciate the weather, because normally I would be stuck inside all day.”
It may seem silly, or trite, but test it out. You may find that you are more positive, even during hard times, and that the bad isn’t so bad, most of the time. Practicing gratitude for day-to-day moments and events can help us have more inner peace and appreciation for life, as well as change our perspective. And with the added positivity, the world can look a little bit clearer.