We live in a somber world. There is no escaping the reality of challenge and pain in our everyday lives. However, this is not the entire story. As we stumble towards maturity, both individually and relationally, the often-untapped power of gratitude has the ability to transform everything.
There is one simple reason we find gratitude so difficult to come by. We don’t want to be victims of absurdity. Because we live in a world of hurt, we often treat one another with deceit and manipulation. Each of us have had our share of disappointment and dashed hope.
We don’t want to be taken for a ride. We want to keep the rug from being pulled out from under us.
And so, we take on an air of skepticism. We view everyone and every thing through a negative lens. That way, we won’t be hurt when things turn out badly and we will be ecstatic at the shock when things turn out good.
It makes a certain amount of sense. It is safe. And we are people of fear, generally speaking. But the problem is that we close ourselves off to a lot of what is going on. Ironically, we disqualify ourselves from joy in an effort to avoid pain.
When we think about being thankful, we often think of it as some sort of trick. A little lie to make things easier on ourselves. Just pretend things are better.
But, seeking gratitude is not some ploy toward self-deception. It is an honest awakening to the other side of things.
The safety we try to surround ourselves with can also be a shackle. We numb ourselves so we can avoid pain. But in doing so, we numb our ability to experience joy as well. Therefore, depression and suicide are rampant in our world.
We tend to think the negative is the truth and, therefore, our attempts at gratitude are some sort of scheme. Gratitude is not about lying to yourself. There are real and beautiful things to be thankful for.
What We See
The reality is this: we see what we are looking for. If you are trying to get pregnant, you’ll notice all the people with babies. If you are hungry, you notice food.
We think negativity is more true because it is the thing we are looking for (and therefore the thing we see).
If we search honestly for gratitude, we will find it honestly. We will see the beauty of our lives. It is not something we need to add or manufacture. It is already there. We just need to learn how to see it.
This is the transformational power of honest gratitude. Pain is true. There is no getting around that. But so is goodness. Pain is not the whole truth. And when we invite ourselves to seeing the whole truth, we will transform our perspective and our attitude.