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I‘ve been musing about gratitude lately. I have a habit of observing people in trial and tribulation, as I’ve been there myself. I have many close to me that are suffering from loss, pain, infertility, aging, unemployment, diagnosed illness and discrimination. Although I haven’t felt every one of those personally, I do know what it is like to be broken and feel lost. It is in those times, everyone needs compassion. Speaking from experience, one important step on the road to recovery is finding a safe space to express our disappointments, losses, and hardships. It is important to want to see things in a better light, even if the tunnel seems exceptionally long in the moment.

Navigating life successfully requires facing difficulty with authenticity. In fact, we grow the most at these times. Hardship builds muscles of compassion, empathy, intentionality, persistence, will, endurance and faith. These strengths enable us to climb the mountain of life successfully in both good times and bad.

Having acknowledged that reality, there is another truth that rings equally true. Gratitude is the antibody in the face of disappointment! As Oprah states, gratitude looks toward what we have, rather than what we don’t have.

“Be thankful for what you have; you’ll end up having more. If you concentrate on what you don’t have, you will never, ever have enough.” — Oprah Winfrey

The choice of what you allow to fill your heart ends up being what you fill your mind with, and eventually your soul. Making conscious choices about whether to fill our heart with gratitude in recognition of the goodness and blessing in our life, or with complaints about what we do not have determines the attitude we have each day and how we impact others. Everyone has a choice, in each trial to be either a carrier of vitality and positivity or a carrier of regret and negativity. Which do you want to contribute to your life and the lives of others around you?

I have witnessed people that face hardships and still manage to flow positivity. What makes the difference between that and the less ideal alternative? I believe it is intentional focus and gratitude for what we do have instead of comparing and wishing we had different. Although at times life seems difficult, the choice is not that complicated – what we focus on gets transcribed upon our heart and flows like a river out into the world.

Out of heart flows the wellspring of life. (Proverbs 4:23)

So, how do we build gratitude on our life?

During some of my greatest trials in life, I learned to keep a gratitude journal. I started each day recording at least 5 things I was thankful for that day. My gratitude journal often includes some of these entries:
• My health
• My family
• My friends
• My home
• My faith
• Opportunities to create
• Freedom
• Hot shower
• Choices at the grocery store
• Nature walks
• The ocean

It is amazing what recording your thanks and gratitude can do to improve perspective on life. In my worst of times, I needed the compassion, encouragement and love of those who could pour their support into me. At the same time, taking stock of the good things in my life helped me to put my trials into perspective. Hardships don’t define us; we define them by how we decide to respond to them.

Worldwide Copyright TJ Associates, LLC Diane Kucala

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