Some days, it feels like everything is in sync. You wake up on the right side of the bed, there’s no traffic on the way to work, your morning coffee tastes extra delicious, and it feels like, well, a Friday.
Some days are more challenging. Some days it seems like nothing is going right, like the world is off kilter, and you wonder what the purpose of it all is. You lament at why you work so hard to be disappointed, time and time again.
We all know that being vulnerable is uncomfortable. We all know that we must hold out hope. We all have to believe that the trying times will eventually pass, and when they do we will be rewarded with joys beyond our wildest imagination. We just have to keep moving forward. We have to keep working on ourselves and developing our story, dusting ourselves off when we fall and looking at mistakes as learning opportunities.
I was told once that I should be grateful for everything. No matter what. I had a hard time swallowing that piece of wisdom, because I used to think that being grateful meant appreciating it.
I used to be scared. I was scared of being grateful for the horrible things, like that meant I was weak and actively inviting more of them into my life. I thought I had to be tough, to build walls around myself and my heart like layers of protection so that no-one would be able to hurt me again. The thought of revealing my insecurities and vulnerabilities to people that might hurt me made me squirm with discomfort. However, this got me nowhere. No progress, no improvement, just stuck and running in place.
What I have learned about living in a state of gratitude is this: grateful doesn’t have to equal appreciative. You don’t have to appreciate the bad days, the hard days, and the worst days or the horrible experiences, the trauma, and the pain. Being grateful doesn’t mean you are agreeing with it or welcoming it, it just means you are refusing to let it get the best of you.
Because let’s face it, when we are really going through the worst of it, we find it almost impossible to be grateful for it all. It’s hard to believe in the light at the end of the tunnel when we are surrounded by darkness. It’s hard to do a gratitude check when all we want to do is give up.
Practice makes perfect. Like everything else, it takes time to change habits and to alter behaviors you have defaulted to for years. It takes energy to be mindful of the good things, and to be aware of the tiny miracles that happen every single day.
Learning to open up came hand in hand with embracing gratitude. The two coaxed each other along. As I got better at giving thanks, and focusing on the good, the pieces about me that I thought of as broken began to mend. I was able to be more open, more honest, and more authentic in every area of my life. Those silly suggestions, like making gratitude lists and living in the moment, became easier and easier to incorporate into my daily routine.
Because the miracles really do happen. An ordinary day can become something extraordinary, an unexpected introduction can lead to a life-changing opportunity, and you never know what tomorrow will bring.
It can take a long time to appreciate what a painful lesson has taught you and, in turn, what it has given you. Days, weeks, and years may pass before you can understand the true meaning of choosing to walk through one door instead of the other. Life is a serious of choices, chances, and opportunities. We can only live it forward, learn from it when it knocks us down, appreciate when it brings us joy, and always remember to be kind to ourselves in the process.
Appreciate the Fridays, the moments, and the miracles. Remember to breathe, to reflect, and to give thanks- because we have today.
*Top photo via Pinterest.