‘Be thankful’ is something we hear when we are going through hard times. ‘Be thankful it’s not worse’. Or ‘Be thankful it’s not you!’ It’s a saying people use to comfort. Yet, thankfulness should be our go-to for difficult situations, amazingly wonderful ones, and the small ones in between.

Hard Times

Why would we be thankful for hard times in and of themselves? Health, finances, relationships, and self esteem can all be affected. Hard times test us, sometimes to a point that seems impossible to overcome. They can take away our material possessions. Sometimes, we lose everything and have to start over again. Sometimes hard times can change us emotionally. Depression and anxiety can result. We feel angry that we are suffering and don’t know why we deserve to feel so bad. We can also be affected mentally by hard times, when we allow self talk to take over. It is hard to concentrate when there are serious situations affecting us. All these situations can lead to a crisis of faith in God and ourselves.

In all these situations, we can look back on them at some future date and reflect. Perhaps, we find our need for material goods changes. There is a realization that there are more important things in life besides ‘stuff’. We learn resilience, and possibly, courage. It takes both to begin again. It also takes courage to look at ourselves, and admit to failure. Changing our outlook and trying again is empowering. It’s an opportunity to be grateful that we have learned new things about ourselves. New understanding leads to new skills that can help us move forward.

When we make changes that help us evolve or advance, our mental and emotional outlook improves. Looking at ourselves and asking difficult questions like ‘Am I happy’, ‘What can I do to be more content?’ or, ‘How can I change things?’, takes us down a much different path than we were on before. Changing aspects of our lives that bring us pain is a major undertaking, but reaps so many benefits. Be thankful you have found this path.

Good Times, And In Between

It’s easy to be thankful in good times. When we receive praise, money, gifts, love, or whatever else makes us happy in a big way, on some level we are thankful. They may come from external sources like teachers, parents, the lottery, or a birthday gift. We can also be grateful for the internal achievements we make, such as our creativity, ingenuity, integrity, rational thinking, and compassion.

Whether external or internal, it takes a state of being present to what is actually occurring that matters. The more you can recognize situations that are gratitude inducing, the more grateful you will become. Even the smallest of things, like smelling a fragrant flower, having fun with a young child, or sitting quietly with someone you love, can and should be appreciated. Recognizing all the ways you can maintain happiness, starts with gratitude, thankfulness, and appreciation. It is continually focusing on what is good in your life and giving thanks.

Happy Thanksgiving. Adonai.