“In my work and personal life, I listen to stories of tragedy and loss. Witnessing grief is difficult, but I find that joy and beauty are never far away. Even during our darkest days, there is beauty. Even in times of despair, there are reasons to be thankful.
Giving thanks does not take away all our pain and struggles, but it points us to the light in a time of darkness. Identifying reasons to be thankful gives glimmers of hope and strength to keep going.
We face hard times in our lives, and none of us will escape grief. But it is not a journey without joy. And you do not have to find “closure” or end grief before you can experience that joy. You do not have to have everything going right in your life in order to be thankful in any situation.” – Dr. Nancy Berns
Giving Thanks During Stressful Times
- Volunteer Bonnie Carroll hugs Nancy Thompson at the Rescue Mission Thanksgiving Dinner in Santa Barbara, California.
By: Angela Escobar
It should be easy to have an attitude of gratitude when things are going our way, when things are going well in our lives. It’s great when money is coming in, all the bills are paid, family and friends are around to offer their company, and we are surrounded by the comforts of home—when life is wonderful and you’re on top of your game. Ironically however, these are the times when we are most likely to be the least thankful. Things are going so well for us that we for get to stop and give thanks for what we have.
When we are down on our luck on the other hand, and times become difficult for us, that is when we stop and start to blame those around us, perhaps God, perhaps even ourselves for all the bad that is occurring in our lives. We begin to ask what we did to deserve it. We begin to look at others and at times feel angry when we see that their lives seem to be going better than ours. We start thinking that they must be doing something right to deserve all the good things that are going on with them, and we must be doing something wrong to deserve all the bad things that are going on with ourselves. For some reason we always feel that we deserve a continuous stream of good luck and success for ourselves and our lives. It is so easy to forget to be thankful during these broken times.
We forget to be thankful for our health until we are struck miserable with illness or disease. We forget to be thankful for our family till they are permanently gone. We forget to be thankful for our comforts until we are suffering from chronic debilitating pain. We forget to give thanks to the people in our lives until we find ourselves completely alone, with not a soul in the world to console us. We forget to be thankful for our youth until we find ourselves handicapped or disabled by old age.
In truth, no matter how difficult our lives become, there is always still something- even the most slightest thing- to be thankful for. Moment by moment, breath by breath there is always for which we can stop and give thanks for.
Even now, right where you are, as difficult a time as you may be going through—is there not even the smallest thing you could find to be thankful for? Perhaps you are alone, having financial struggles, trying to make it with little to no food on your table, suffering from a terrible illness, are grieving for a loved one that has recently passed, or have found yourself homeless this Thanksgiving. Giving thanks may not bring you instant luck and success. Counting your blessings will not make what you want and/or need fall into your lap. So why then should you be thankful during these difficult times? Simply because it leads us to the light in times of darkness and despair. It gives us hope when times seem hopeless. It gives us the strength to continue the journey of our lives.
Please be kind to yourself today. Find it in your heart to be kind to others. It costs nothing. Remember that life is about change and nothing ever stays the same. Everything is constantly changing for every single one of us, and it will change for you. And this too shall surely pass.
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Further Reading: 48 things to be grateful for when you need to shift your focus
Photo Credit: noozhawk.com