After all the traumas and losses you’ve been through, are you now wondering why be thankful? What do I have to be thankful for? Have you ever thought that? It’s likely that you have. I think we all have after being devastated. Wading through one traumatic event or loss after another can lead to feelings of things never getting better or total hopelessness. These events may cause us to become bitter, angry, or ungrateful, unless we take time to process our pain the right way. According to the Merriam Webster online dictionary, grateful is defined as “appreciative of benefits received,” and thankfulness is defined as “conscious of a benefit received; well pleased; and expressive of thanks.” Sometimes when life gets difficult, it’s easy to become less appreciative and less likely to express our thankfulness, unless we make a concentrated effort to do so and to stay positive.
Impact of Life Experiences
Despite our life experiences, we all have a choice on how we will respond to the traumas and losses that come our way. No matter what socioeconomic level we might be whether poor, homeless, disabled, middle class, or wealthy, the choice is up to us to be thankful and appreciative. It’s very humbling to lose everything and start over. Anybody can experience traumas and losses because they cut across all socioeconomic levels. If you’ve ever lost everything or have known someone who did, you’ll also know that people who were thought to be friends suddenly disappear. Sometimes that’s because they do not know how to handle the traumatic situation.
What I’m saying is that it helps us heal when we choose to be grateful and thankful. Getting through traumas and losses we have the choice to value life and to appreciate what we have or to not to do that. Maybe you value life and what you have now, but it’s been a struggle to gain that perspective. That’s okay. Continue on your healing journey. Sometimes those who have lost everything then see life from a different perspective than those who are focused on buzzing through life buying up the latest gadgets.
It’s possible to have good physical or financial health, but have one or more experiences occurred that pulled the rug out from under you—maybe through no fault of your own? You might have a PhD with a great paying job, or a lucrative career, or be in excellent health playing sports you enjoy, but suddenly have your life turned upside down and those things may be gone. You grieve your losses, but as you work through that grieving process, you might learn new ways to appreciate the little things in life. Those might be the sunrises and sunsets that you can see, the birds that you can hear, or your ability to still walk and think despite a car accident.
I believe developing thankfulness starts by having the right perspective. We’re not entitled to anything, but there seem to be more people thinking that way these days. Entitlement thinking smacks of selfishness and ingratitude. Thankfulness instead comes from looking humbly at life and seeing God’s hand of protection and provision, and taking note of where you used to be compared to where you are now. It’s also about learning to see the glass half full and that with God’s help things will improve—even if you don’t know how that will happen right now.
Actually, I believe we can always go to new levels of thankfulness. Sometimes just spending more time with those who are less fortunate is a good starting point to developing that new level of thankfulness. A good exercise is to write in your journal every morning or evening the things for which you are thankful. See what happens. In fact, I would love for you to write me a note and share how that exercise changes your life. I have used it for years, sometimes more consistently than others, but it has always impacted my life.
Keep an attitude of gratitude!
8 thoughts on “Why be thankful?”
I really could have used this lesson back a few years ago when I watched my wife die of Cancer. Let me correct myself. She actually died from the Chemotherapy treatments. There was nothing I could do, just hope for the best but prepare for the worse. It seemed like an eternity that I couldn’t make a good decision. But I learned something. GOD does answer prayers. I am living proof.
I am thankful for the lessons which have made me a better person. I show my gratitude daily, I wish I would have thought of writing in a journal as you have described. I may have healed myself sooner.
Oh Kenneth, I’m so sorry to hear that your wife passed away from chemo treatments. That’s actually what happened to my friend as well. He refused to do any more of the chemo treatments after completing 1/2 of the treatments. It is such a helpless feeling to stand by and watch a loved one significantly decline from traditional cancer treatments. Through much research, I have found many successful, alternative cancer treatments and I plan to get the word out to others to prevent people from needlessly losing loved ones. Meanwhile, journaling, praying, taking walks, and trusting God are my favorite things for overcoming traumatic events. Thank you for sharing a little bit of your journey. God bless you!
Suffering the loss of a loved one is a very painful experience. Even believing that the loved one is now with God doesn’t make it easier in the first few months, or years with some people. In can be hard to deal with the pain. It can cause feelings of helplessness, disbelief and even anger that the loved one has been taken from you.
And of course those who suffer huge financial loss struggle to come to terms with what has happened, and spend so much time agonizing over the loss, and the reason why it happened.
To move on from each of these types of loss one has to be strong. But how can one grow in strength. If they do the exercise you describe in your post Colleen, journaling morning and night time things they are most thankful for their strength will grow. Another action I learnt from a Success Coach is first thing every morning ask yourself ‘what are the three things I am most grateful for today.’ Then say those three things out loud, and believe them. That has also worked for me.
Thank you for sharing your thoughts and what you’ve learned, Valerie. I believe that each person has to trust God for strength and for wisdom on how to best move forward after traumatic events. Things can be so physically, emotionally, and financially chaotic after losses that being still to allow the healing to begin can be difficult. Journaling is quite helpful, but I have found that prayer, meditation on the Word of God, and declaring Bible verses on healing are very powerful.
Gratefulness is an important skill to learn. Growing up, I never was that way. It was not something I valued. I took everything for granite. Then something traumatic happened. (I won’t share because it is very personal to me.) After that, I looked at life in a whole different way. Days could not be viewed in the old way. I had to adjust and appreciate.
However, you should not have to go through something like that to view life in a different way. Learn from my mistake and appreciate life as it is. Thank you for sharing Colleen. I hope you make it a great day!
Hi Alex! So many people have had life-changing events occur when they were young. Unfortunately, it can instantly change how they see life after that—much like your traumatic event that occurred. Sorry to hear about that. The challenge is how to develop gratefulness as they get older and heal from the traumas, b/c often gratefulness isn’t even something they want to develop. Their reluctance to develop gratefulness depends on the number of traumatic events and the level of physical and emotional pain they suffered with each event. We may all know someone who needs to learn to be grateful, so we must lead by example and model gratefulness. Good advice, Alex, to “learn to appreciate life as it is.” Thank you for your insight and comments!
We all have something to be thankful for, if we get in the morning and we are able to walk.
We should be helping the less fortunate, there is always somebody worse off than you.
You are so right, Fred! We just need to be sensitive to those around us who may have special needs, lend a hand if needed and be patient if they are slower moving. Sometimes for those who have financial needs, we can share out of our own abundance or help them find the community resources they need. That’s part of what this site is about. Thank you so much for sharing!