It’s easy to be bitter, cynical, and hurt in this imperfect world of ours.
Everyone experiences the heartache, struggle, and defeat that is ever-present in the fragile existence that is human life.
“That’s not fair!” is something I would constantly yell at my father when something didn’t go the way I wanted to go.
His reply was profound in its simplicity.
“Life isn’t fair.”
The longer I live, the more I recognize how true my father’s words are.
Life isn’t fair.
As I think about how unfair life is, I look at other people’s lives.
You never know someone until you walk a mile in someone else’s shoes.
When I take the time to listen to other people, I recognize the struggles I carry are often easier burdens to carry than those I see in others.
I hesitate as I write those words because I don’t want to minimize my struggles.
We all have our struggles.
I’ve heard many people share the reasons why we have the struggles we have.
I’ve heard we only get the struggles we need.
We get struggles to help us grow.
We get struggles to test us.
I don’t know if there is a reason for our struggles.
What I do know is part of humanity is imperfection.
If life were perfect, we wouldn’t have struggles.
Some of our struggles our minor, and some are extremely traumatic.
These traumas cause deep wounds that take time to heal.
Some people find a way to healing their wounds, and others allow the traumas to cripple them for a portion of their life.
I’ve traveled down both paths.
I’ve been crippled for decades by some of my traumas.
I’ve been able to find healing for those same traumas.
Ultimately the path to healing came from one word.
When I redirected my focus from the traumas to the things I could be thankful for, healing came into my life.
Several years ago, someone impressed on me the importance of expressing gratitude.
He advised me that anytime someone does something nice for you, mail them a handwritten thank you note.
At took his advice and purchased some thank you cards.
Then each time someone referred a new customer to me, I started wrote that person a thank you card.
When I finished writing that thank you card, I was uplifted by expressing gratitude to that person.
Then shortly after writing the thank you card, I was stricken with shame.
Shame at all the times I had been blessed by untold people that referred new customers to me.
I was sickened at my lack of gratitude.
My mother had taught me better.
Why had I been so ungrateful?
I determined from that day forward I would take the time to make gratitude an integral part of my life.
I was surprised by what came into my life as a result of expressing gratitude.
I started to recognize the richness that had existed in my life.
Nothing had really changed in my life except what I began to acknowledge.
I began to recognize that the good I had in my life outweighs the negative aspects of my life.
I’ve even been able to develop gratitude for some of the pains in my life.
I don’t know if I’ll be able to be grateful for some of the most painful experiences.
It may not matter if I become grateful.
There are enough other things for me to be grateful for that those painful experiences are better left in the past.
I’ve also learned that the more I express gratitude, the more I appreciate the abundance I have in my life.
It is very difficult to dwell on the negative aspects of my life when I’m uplifted by gratitude.
Viktor Frankl, who survived the horrors of Nazi concentration camps, shared profound wisdom with the following words.
“The one thing you can’t take away from me is the way I choose to respond to what you do to me. The last of one’s freedoms is to choose one’s attitude in any given circumstance.”
I’ve learned that as I choose to respond with gratitude for both the good and bad in my life, I am able to receive good from both the good and bad of life.
When I lack gratitude, I tend to receive bad from both the good and the bad of my life.
The circumstances of my life haven’t changed. The way I choose to respond to the circumstances is what changed.
Gratitude has enabled me to stop and smell the roses of abundance that have always been a part of my life.
Earlier this year, I read the words of Wallace D. Wattles on the power of gratitude in life. Here are his words.
“The whole process of mental adjustment and atonement can be summed up in one word, gratitude.
The more gratefully we fix our minds on the Supreme when good things come to us, the more good things we will receive, and the more rapidly they will come; and the reason simply is that the mental attitude of gratitude draws the mind into closer touch with the source from which the blessings come.
Gratitude will lead your mind out along the ways by which things come; and it will keep you in close harmony with creative thought and prevent you from falling into competitive thought.
The law of gratitude is the natural principle that action and reaction are always equal, and in opposite directions.
You cannot exercise much power without gratitude; for it is gratitude that keeps you connected with Power.
To permit your mind to dwell upon the inferior is to become inferior and to surround yourself with inferior things.
We are Thinking Substance, and thinking substance always takes the form of that which it thinks about. The grateful mind is constantly fixed upon the best; therefore it tends to become the best; it takes the form or character of the best, and will receive the best.
It is necessary, then, to cultivate the habit of being grateful for every good thing that comes to you; and to give thanks continuously. And because all things have contributed to your advancement, you should include all things in your gratitude.”
Each morning I start my day with a simple practice. I repeat the following words to myself 100 times.