Gratitude is a tricky thing. It’s not necessarily something you can create or just conjure up out of nowhere. Doing something expecting gratitude rarely evokes the desired response and I’m sure that many of us have had the experience of struggling to find something to appreciate in a given moment. As a child and young adult, I often thought of gratitude as something that you express for the sake of someone else; I thought the whole point of expressing gratitude was to make someone else feel good or to be polite. I’ve realized, however, that, while it definitely feels good to know that you’re appreciated, the experience of really connecting with how much you value, appreciate, and are truly thankful for something in your life is an incredibly enriching experience on a personal level.
Gratitude has the capacity to inspire us to be more generous, to give us a new perspective on the world around us, and even to heal us. One of the beautiful things about gratitude is that there is an infinite number of things that can elicit it. We can feel gratitude for the people in our lives that have supported and guided us. We can feel appreciation for our health and for the luxuries that are so easily taken for granted every day: the food that nourishes us, the comforts of our homes, and the opportunities that we have been blessed with in our lives. Even simple things, like a smile from a stranger, a beautiful day, or the experience of feeling seen, acknowledged, or understood can fill us with so much gratitude.
Of course, there are times when it can be difficult to connect with that sense of thankfulness. When we find ourselves in circumstances that trigger fear, anger, or pain, it can often feel like there isn’t enough room for gratitude as well. Even in these moments though, if we can take a step back and just breathe into the difficult part of the situation, we can see that these experiences can be full of gifts as well. They provide us with the opportunity to grow, to learn, and to test and stretch the limits of what we believe we are capable of. It is often the very experience of struggle that helps us develop a greater capacity for humility and compassion. It is in these moments that we have the chance to fully explore what it means to be a human being with the myriad of sensations, emotions, and experiences that come along with it, and what can any one of us be more grateful for than that?
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**Lots of GRATITUDE to Suzanne Campbell for the photos featured in this article**