How would you feel if I stated that you’re not grateful for the all the right things? Or, perhaps at least, would you feel curious if I shared that you’re not exploring your gratitude deep enough?  Let me explain…

First, what is gratitude and why does it matter to your well-being? Gratitude is a thankful appreciation for what an individual receives, whether tangible or intangible. This is important because practicing gratitude daily is proven to alleviate sadness, frustration, stress, doubt, fear, and reduces the temptation to develop a victim mentality for life’s circumstances. This practice of giving thanks also greatly improves your ability to handle adversity. Basically, the consistent habit of practicing gratitude and giving thanks trains your brain to overcome toxic emotions.  

If I asked you what you are grateful for today, I believe your likely responses would include; family, friends, health, security, work, a home, a car, clothes, sports, shopping, good food, entertainment, and a rather long list of blessings you’ve received in your life.  All of these subjects are great comforts in life and surely deserving of thanksgiving. But, are there other subjects that you should consider when focusing on gratitude?

What if you changed your perspective? Have you considered giving gratitude to your trials, challenges, struggles, mistakes, failures, and hard times? What if you were grateful for the things that make you uncomfortable? What if your primary thanksgivings in life weren’t the things that give you comfort?

What if you meditated on giving thanks for the following?

  • Gratitude for your embarrassing mistake, because it gives you an opportunity to practice humility.
  • Gratitude for the person who frustrates you in your personal or professional life, because it gives you an opportunity to grow in patience.
  • Gratitude for the messy relationships in your life, because it gives you an opportunity to lead others through tough times.
  • Gratitude for the fear you feel towards a future challenge, because it gives you an opportunity to act courageous.
  • Gratitude for the devastating moments of your life, because it gives you the opportunities to grow in perseverance and strength to help others who face similar trauma.

What if you looked at the problems in your life and identified how your personal development would grow if you sought to find the silver lining within each obstacle? What if you lived your life intentionally giving gratitude to your problems while taking action to address and resolve the issues? How would your life change if you replaced the negative emotions derived from your problems with gratitude for the opportunities they present? This mindset doesn’t neglect the pain or suffering caused by the trial but provides an opportunity for hope and perseverance to flourish despite the setback.

This mental exercise is far from easy, and if there is a sure-fire way to make this upside-down mindset a 100% natural response to all of life’s hard circumstances, well, I haven’t discovered it yet. But, because of the Pursuit of Growth lifestyle, I practice placing deliberate effort to seek different perspectives towards my trials. When a trial appears, I ask myself, “How can I learn from this disaster and how can I use the knowledge acquired to help myself and others in the future? How can I grow stronger?”

I fail at this task often. However, when I do succeed, the results are life changing!  Sincere gratitude for my trials strips their oppressive powers from their grip on my life, and instead transfers the power to myself in the form of a mindset focused on opportunities for growth. It’s my responsibility to execute with steadfastness.

James 1:2-3 states, “Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness.”

Steadfastness is the quality of being resolutely firm and unwavering with your beliefs in the face of adversity. If you believe in the authority of the Bible , or, the importance of steadfastness as a universal strength, this verse validates the perspective of giving gratitude towards life’s challenges. 

Ultimately, our trials give us the opportunity to grow closer to God and trust his strength to help us persevere through any challenge, obstacle, trial, or failure on this Earth. This truth alone is worthy of immense gratitude.

How can you work to change your perspective for thanksgiving?