I remember my brother-in-law cocking his head to the side looking quizzically when, at my turn around the Thanksgiving table, I asserted that I was grateful for everything- including the biggest challenges I had the past year- and even for those to come. Why would I say I was grateful for anything negative?
I was actually stating out loud what I had been practicing and hoped would become a strong frame of reference- looking at all the events of my life as having a purpose that served me.
I started applying a phrase my sister suggested- announcing a “plot twist” when things didn’t go my way. Haven’t you watched a movie that ends well, but has numerous unexpected, unwanted, sometimes scary challenges along the way? At the time, you may think there is no way out, yet it’s the movies, and just wait. There will be another plot twist. Like real life, after the movie characters make it past their circumstances, they gain a new perspective and see what they were forced to endure made life more meaningful and richer in some way.
Many of us can recall the very challenges that made us stronger, changed our outlook for the better, made us more compassionate, or raised our appreciation of life. We were changed at depth in a good way.
It is a statement of faith as well as gratitude to be thankful in advance. If you enter so called “negative” circumstances with a mental frame that “this is FOR me in some way”, you look for the opportunity the challenge brings. You find evidence along the way for what that good might be, instead of staying in resistance. This divorce? This health challenge? The struggles with my special needs child? Yes, the very things you would like to wave a magic wand at and make go away are there FOR you in some way.
If your challenge involves people, which is often the case, there may be an opportunity for forgiveness that will release you from feeling like a victim. You may think others are doing this TO you. What if it is life bringing you the opportunity to build new qualities in you or move you ultimately to the new life you desire? Seldom do we go looking for uncomfortable challenges on purpose with the idea that “this will be great!” Yet, even those who have been through hell say they would not have given up their dark night because, guess what? They love the depth of life they now enjoy.
Can you look at an unwanted circumstance in your life and say Thank You? Can you be grateful in advance for the struggles you will have this year? I challenge you to join me in recognizing the “plot twists” that will make your life more precious.