After the initial days or weeks of a painful situation, it is important to begin thinking about what you are thankful for. It’s a choice. You may not feel it but do it anyway and watch what happens.
If you live in a culture that emphasizes self- indulgence (what you deserve or what makes you happy), you can get used to living by how you feel.
Taking a moment and considering the things that went right instead of only what went wrong has a physiological affect. Studies show amazing benefits to name a few- increased positive mood, a sense of belonging, better sleep, increased energy, and fewer incidents of illness.
According to WebMD, feelings of gratitude were at high levels after 9-11.
How can this be? When tragedies happen, things that really matter come into perspective.
When you’re hurting, I know you want to stay there. Many cultures practice a time of mourning the loss of a loved one by wearing dark or muted colors and withdrawing from social events. In Western culture, I think it would be good to revisit these practices.
Yet, there comes a time when we put away the mourning clothes and face the future with hope and optimism. Remembering what you are thankful for will put you in a hopeful and optimistic mindset.
You have the rest of your life to live!
Photo credit: That Guy Who’s Going Places / Foter /Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic (CC BY 2.0)
Not feeling much like being thankful? I know. When everything around you is painful, being thankful is not in your mind. And even if you think about being thankful, the fact is you don’t want to be.
And a picture of a sunset or snowflake or flower won’t do a thing for you. Not when you’re feeling some deep loss or despair.
Feel the pain. It’s okay.
But lift your tear stained face off that pillow for a minute and breathe. You see the now. But there is a tomorrow. And the next day. And the next. Don’t let the sorrow consume you to the point of not wanting to live. Just as quickly as that pain stormed down the door and pounced on you – it can leave just as quickly.
The Psalms are full of the heart cries of sorrow. Yet, in the end, the psalmist concludes his pain is bigger than him to handle. The solution for the pain he cannot contain is turning toward God and saying – yet I will trust in You.
There is something to be thankful for. Something.
Abraham Lincoln gave a proclamation to the American people during the Civil War. Despite a time of severe sorrow and loss, he leads the country in establishing our national holiday on the last Thursday of November, and called it Thanksgiving. What? How can this be?
This wasn’t a war fought in a foreign country. It was right under the noses of the American people. The battlefields could not be ignored. They were stained with human flesh and blood from the slaughtered sons and fathers who never came home. Surely, our nation’s cries of angst echoed in the heavens up to God’s ears. And it took someone such as President Lincoln, who spent many private moments grappling in the darkness of his soul, to lead the nation to do the right thing. The thing that makes no sense. But the thing that would bring relief, comfort, and peace for an aching heart.
Finding something to be thankful for is not avoiding or ignoring the pain. It is the secret to getting through the pain and seeing your inability to handle it alone. It is the secret to knowing the God you’ve heard about.
Being thankful won’t make the pain go away. But it will help you through it. Abraham Lincoln must have known that.