Keeping a Grateful Heart when Life Throws You a Curve Ball

I have to think that in my journey of bringing more gratitude into my life that I have been "lucky" and blessed that my road hasn't been filled with too many potholes. Of course I've had my share of losses, disappointments, frustrations, fears and sadness but nothing that has shaken me to my core and turned my world into something unrecognizable. Not everyone can say that....so how DO you live with a grateful heart when facing serious illness, death or loss of a loved one, job loss, heartbreak, devastating acts of nature etc....When your life is shaken so deeply that it brings you to your knees, how do you not just stand back up, but stand up and have enough gratitude to go forward? 

It's easy to be grateful when things are going smoothly, life is good and easy. On this smooth plane we can celebrate and embrace these feelings of gratitude; life is good. Then with no warning the rug is pulled out from underneath us and life takes a different, difficult turn. How can we feel grateful when our life has just fallen apart? 

The book "Gratitude Works" by Robert E. Emmons states that *"not only does an attitude of gratitude help during difficult times~it's ESSENTIAL". He states, *"In fact, its is precisely under crisis conditions when we have the most to gain by a grateful perspective on life. In the face of demoralization, gratitude has the power to energize. In the face of brokenness, gratitude has the power to heal. In the face of despair gratitude has the power to bring hope." Gratitude does not come easily or spontaneously when our life is in crisis. No one feels grateful they lost a loved one or a job, their home or are ill. In the words of Robert E. Emmons: *"But it is vital to make a distinction between feeling grateful and being grateful. We don't have total control over our emotions. We cannot easily will ourselves to feel grateful, less depressed, or happy. Feelings follow from the way we look at the world, thoughts we have about the way things are, the way things should be and the distance between these two points." *"But being grateful is a choice, a prevailing attitude that endures and is relatively immune to the gains and losses that flow in and out of our lives. When disaster strikes, gratitude provides a perspective from which we can view life in it's entirety and not be overwhelmed by temporary circumstances. Yes, this perspective is hard to achieve-but my research says it is worth the effort."  

*"To deny that life has its share of disappointments, frustrations, losses, hurts, setbacks, and sadness would be unrealistic and untenable. Life is suffering. No amount of positive thinking exercises will change this truth."

*"So telling people simply to buck up, count their blessings, and remember how much they still have to be grateful for can certainly do much harm. Processing a life experience through a grateful lens does not mean denying negativity. It is not a form of superficial happiology. Instead, it means realizing the power you have to transform an obstacle into an opportunity. It means reframing a loss into a potential gain, recasting negativity into positive channels for gratitude." ~Robert E. Emmons

These are powerful words that when taken seriously and used consistently can change your life. If you know someone that is going through a difficult time be a good friend, and help them by sharing the gift of gratitude; it will change their life.

*http://greatergood.berkeley.edu/article/item/how_gratitude_can_help_you_through_hard_times