Having gratitude for the journey helps you realize how strong you really are.
Looking back on the most significant, stressful, strenuous challenges in our lives has been one of the most freeing experiences we have had. We have had ups and downs, have felt exhausted and worn out. We have had to recharge, start over, re-group, slow down and re-organize our lives/situations multiple times. Each time it was overwhelming while we were in it.
Now, looking back, we are grateful for the experience. We are better able to handle situations. We can move forward and do greater. We can give more.
Standing in gratitude can always help refocus your attention, inspiration and motivation to do greater, be better and give more.
Gratitude Can Set You Free
In 2008 I was stuck in a contract with an organization I didn’t want to be a part of in a job I wasn’t suited for.
I was miserable day and night suffering to even get up to go to work in the morning. I didn’t feel fulfilled, I wasn’t working at my highest potential and I didn’t feel like I was contributing to society, helping others or serving my highest purpose.
Day in and day out I struggled to find joy. I was very connected to doing better, being better and having an impact on the world in some way. None of that was being met.
At home I couldn’t contribute. I couldn’t be myself because my anxiety about my following day’s work (or lack of work) bothered me to my core. It was a selfish time for me (and in a negative sense of the word, as I wasn’t contributing anything positive toward my own personal wellbeing).
I was inspired to do more with my life so I attempted to break my contract and start a new career.
Of course the process took a long period of time (close to a year), caused intense struggle in my life, made every waking moment even more difficult because of the uncertain future with respect to my release from the company. I still had to show up for work, put in my time not knowing if or when I would be allowed to move on.
During this time Amy was by my side. It was our journey together.
Without knowing when I would be allowed to move on, what the consequences of breaking the contract would be and what our life would look like after the fact we were forced to take each moment day by day, communicate on a high level and remain a team even when it was unclear where we would end up.
This is when Amy introduced me to the concept of “gratitude” and the actual practice of it. To be grateful for my life, experiences, family, friends, thoughts, joys, abilities, possibilities, etc. The inner work that is more than just surface level thankfulness for things and people. I’m talking gratitude for the tough times, gratitude for the things that made us who we were, gratitude for the little things that I didn’t think had anything to do with who I was and gratitude for the possibilities we had looking forward.
This was thinking outside of the box for me.
At the time I didn’t meditate. I didn’t know that self-talk could affect how I felt. It was similar to how people once thought food didn’t affect our health. I didn’t think my thoughts had anything to do with my emotions, my wellbeing or my happiness.
She was big into vision boards, gratitude lists, journaling what she was grateful for, etc. She prayed for me everyday (and still does), had complete confidence in me and inspired me to simply think about what I was grateful for. Maybe write a list, read it once in a while and stay focused on how fortunate I was to be in a position where I could soon start fresh.
It sounds really simple but it had a profound affect on me. I had been through a lot and hadn’t really thought about it much. I hadn’t considered what I had accomplished in life and what that represented.
As I began to think about what I was grateful for in my own personal life up to that point what I was going through seemed easier to cope with. Timing didn’t matter because I realized everything was happening for my highest good.
I began to contemplate what I had heard many times: “Everything happens for a reason.”
Understanding and acknowledging my gratitude showed me my biggest stressors, toughest situations and hardest days are a source of my greatest strengths. By knowing what I had been through I felt ready for anything.
Soon I had what I wanted – a fresh start.
Every Moment is a Fresh Start
Recently Amy and I have reached a new level of gratitude (which we will be writing about soon). In other words we have just finished a journey that at times felt like a great struggle. It was a different story than the one above because this time we loved what we were doing. More to come on that.
It was intense, exhausting, overwhelming – any word that describes a possible high anxiety situation – it was that.
Looking back on the last 4 years we are beyond grateful for our drive, dedication, determination, ability to adapt to changing situations, appropriately communicate with each other, set boundaries and grow together.
Practicing gratitude is easy and can be done anywhere, anytime. Reflecting on situations and finding the good is a healing practice. This is a practice that opens you up to more good. Today we are feeling fulfilled, inspired and grateful.