We all know that it’s beneficial to be grateful for the good things in our lives, especially when we know that other people don’t have all the comforts or luxuries we have. But we can develop gratitude for the hard times too.
This is easiest done in retrospect. Thinking back over the most tragic, difficult or painful times you’ve been through, you can usually identify some silver linings – the experiences you had or the people you met that wouldn’t have happened otherwise; the people who came out of the woodwork to support you; and especially the ways in which you learned and grew through those difficult experiences.
Once you’ve mastered retrospective gratitude for hard times, you can begin to cultivate gratitude even while hard times are actually happening. In a way, difficult times are a privilege. They are opportunities for growth that lift you out of mediocrity and test your mettle. Approached with an attitude of acceptance and faith, difficult times can only lead to becoming a better person. While you could never say that the experience was ‘worth it’ or that you would wish it on anyone, often our hardest times are the very experiences that force us to grow strengths and understandings that we might never have found otherwise. An attitude of gratitude towards our difficulties means we see them as opportunities for growth and look for their lessons.
Imagine if nothing ever went wrong in your life. Things would be predictable and easy – but you would be severely limited in your ability to adapt, stretch yourself or show compassion for others. This alone is a reason to be grateful when something happens that sorely tests you.