Giving thanks, even when it hurts

This week's editorial suggests that giving thanks can be done at the best of times but also at the worst of times.

Thanksgiving calls up so many emotions in me.

The time really is about being together as a family and giving thanks and I’ve always enjoyed the chance to sit down and eat a bigger meal than my stomach can handle.

For farmers that may be a challenge this year with this cold weather we are having. For others it may not be such a happy occasion.

How does one find thanks when they are in troubled times? Maybe they’ve lost a loved family member or can’t pay the bills enough that utilities are out. What if they’re in an abusive relationship and don’t see an end to the tunnel?

Truth is though, that feeling guilty about it doesn’t really help the situation either, or the people in troubled times.

Fifty bucks says just about everyone you know, including yourself, has been in trying and stressful times, sometimes during happy occasions such as Thanksgiving or Christmas. This is a reality that won’t go away.

Recently I have tried a different tack to dealing with those struggles: showing gratitude for the hard times.

Believe you me, this way of doing things goes against every fibre of my being.

A few years ago I watched a Soul Pancake video discussing how a person’s happiness increased when they showed gratitude. Participants were interviewed about someone they looked up to and asked to write down why they were grateful for that individual.

They were then asked to make a phone call to that specific person and read the paragraph they wrote. The majority of those who made the phone call seemed happier and joyful for the experience.

What struck me was that if being thankful to some event or to an individual makes one happy, then could it not be applied to the bad times or to someone who did you a disservice?

I’ve tried it and let me tell you something, it was a most invigorating feeling. To be thankful, even when it hurt to do so, changed my mental and personal outlook on things. It helped me focus on the task and the struggles and look at what I could learn from them.

One area I do struggle with, however, is that every person’s pain is real. That cannot be forgotten. For some it may be more than just having a bad day. It could be a seriously dangerous or abusive situation and me suggesting that all that is needed is to, “Be thankful,” may not be the thing they need to hear.

I’ve been in abusive relationships. I’ve tried being thankful, if not to the person, then for the trials and learning that I can get from it.

Please don’t think that there was some sort of miraculous change in me; floating through the air with wings and the sun and beautiful music behind me. That never happened. But something did happen. Rather than being some sort of revolutionary life-changing event, it was more or an evolutionary perspective.

Sometimes when all else fails, being grateful for the tough times, even when it hurts, may be the best tool to fight them.


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