Brother David Stendl-Rast’s book on gratefulness is a classic. In it he says, “The root of joy is gratefulness. It is not joy that makes us grateful; it is gratitude that makes us joyful.”
How is it possible to be grateful or joyful during tough times in our lives? We’ve all had those moments where feeling grateful is the last thing on our mind when we are experiencing a loss; suffering with pain, a disease or an illness; watching a loved one suffer; or the many other situations that arise to dampen our life spirit. In moments like these, is it really possible to be grateful, even, joyful?
I’ve always been a “cup half full” type of person so I’ve been able to see the upside of many of my difficult moments but that doesn’t mean I don’t feel the reality of my situation and the feelings that accompany it. In years past, I may have passed right by “negative” feelings to thinking of the upside of the situation I was in, but not anymore. What I’ve learned is that by acknowledging where I am in the present moment and letting the feelings “have a voice”, I am actually shortening the window of how impacted I am by a difficult situation. Studies show that if you stay with a feeling, that is, feel it, acknowledge it, accept it, appreciate it, for 90-seconds, the feelings will dissipate. What I’ve found is that if I do this, gratitude appears.
As you approach Thanksgiving Day, take a few minutes to reflect on where you are as it relates to being grateful and feeling joy in your life. If you are not quite there, take a few minutes to sit with where you are. Acknowledge where you are. Name and accept what you are feeling. Stay with the feeling for a bit and listen to what is has to say. Remember if you stay with the feeling, it will only last about 90-seconds. As it dissipates, watch what happens… my bet is a little bit of appreciation and gratitude will arise. Maybe not joy, but definitely gratitude.
Take a few minutes to watch or re-watch the video, Gratitude, produced by Louis Schwartzberg and narrated by Br. David. I hope you are as moved as I am every time I watch it.
Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours from all of us at Transform, Inc.
By Theresa Gale,
PRINCIPAL, TRANSFORM, INC.