How to be Thankful for the Good Times and Bad Times

alone-on-bench-sad

My first choice in activity today would probably have been to stay in bed, watching Netflix, feeling lonely and useless, holding back tears…

This week has been an emotional roller coaster for me — extreme highs and lows. Enough to keep my stomach turning and tying in knots.

At Golden Bristle, we signed on our largest project to date. It’s a huge win for us and opens us to new opportunities we wouldn’t have imagined when we started. Some new stuff will be coming to Hero in a Half Shell as part of it, so stay tuned for that coming in the next couple months.

Obviously, that’s great news and I’m extremely excited. It’s also a lot of work in a very short amount of time, almost overwhelming.

At the same time, I’ve had some real difficulties in a relationship that’s very important to me. What seemed like solid ground just a few days ago is falling away in front of my eyes, and at moments I can’t tell which way is up. I’ve been tremendously sad the past days, dealing with this uncertainty and potential loss, working through past wounds that feel fresh, while trying to stay open to love.

It would be easy to try to push through during times like this. To numb the feelings, try to brush them aside or deep down, and pretend the pain isn’t here.

Or to let it consume me, staying in bed all day to prove to myself I’m useless.

Thanks to my practice, though, I’ve found another way to carry on. I’ve taken the time to meditate for at least 15 minutes every day and to supercharge my daily gratitude practice so that it can sink in. I’m choosing gratitude because it anchors me to each moment, and there really is no alternative other than to surrender and be completely thankful for everything life brings. Every morning this week, shortly after waking, I’ve sat on my meditation cushion and out loud said everything I’m grateful for. Sometimes starting with easy things — sunshine or food to eat — sometimes starting with the difficult things — my mistakes, people who have hurt me. And every morning I’ve found opportunities to grow, to see the light through the dark, and to find my way closer to myself.

It’s working, little by very little. After all, I’m still here.

Ten things to be thankful for when your life is a roller coaster:

1. Thankful for the good times

The good times are a compass — pointing us in the direction of our true north. A moment of pure joy can erase months of struggle. They’re why we continue to work for our goals, because we know they come along the way. They’re why we search for love, even when it kicks us in the heart and the pain seems unbearable. They’re why we get up every morning, even when our bones ache and it’s rainy and we don’t know what life is even about. Because something good is definitely somewhere outside of our bed.

2. Thankful for the bad times

The hard journey gives us strength. It makes us grow, even when we fight against it. Every bruise is a lesson, every cut and scrape a chance to heal and become stronger. It shows us why to be thankful for what we have. Because we don’t want to go back. But we know we’ve survived it. We’ve seen the darkest night and lived to see the dawn.

3. Thankful for feeling sad

Sad shows us we care. That we have loved and can still love. Sad gives us something to dig into, to explore ourselves more deeply. It means we’re alive and feeling instead of lifeless and cold. Sad means we made ourselves vulnerable, we showed courage and bravery. It means we can be proud.

4. Thankful for being able to get out of bed

It was 40 degrees and rainy this morning. My bed was much warmer, cushy and perfect. But it didn’t hold anything for me. It wouldn’t provide any healing, only suffering. I’m thankful to have a warm bed to sleep in, but it is a trap, not a refuge. I’m thankful I had the energy to get out of bed this morning. To take one step, then another, toward a path of healing. A path of gratitude. Of surrendering to this moment, to what I’m feeling, so that I can be present during to experience the gift that every day gives us.

5. Thankful for family and friends

We all need support during the best and worst days. We’re made to connect with others. And when everything seems to be falling apart, family and friends can help us keep it together. Call your friends. Tell them you love them. Give to them so that they may give to you when you can’t see past the dark.

6. Thankful for love

Love is life. It’s why I’m here — to love and be loved. I’m thankful for every second I spend feeling love. I’m thankful for every person in my life I love. I’m thankful for my body sending chemicals to remind me how wonderful it feels to love and be loved back. There is nothing greater. And I’m thankful for all the people I have loved, who are no longer in my life, who have taught me how to do it better. How to be more open and vulnerable in the face of fear. How to be more of myself and to give more. Most of all, I’m thankful for the love I can muster for myself.

7. Thankful for loss

Losing something feels like we’ve lost part of ourselves. Maybe that’s a good thing. Maybe it’s a part of us we don’t need anymore. Maybe it never fit right to begin with. Or maybe it’s our ego losing a little of its grip, surrendering a little more from trying to control everything. Experiencing loss allows us to ask important questions – Was I open and vulnerable? Did I try my best? Did I give everything I was capable of giving? Where am I feeling this loss? And those answers tell us how far along we are in our journey toward mindful living.

8. Thankful for the opportunity to help others

Every day we can wake up and ask how we can help someone else. What a joy! Our brains love when we help others; they send out chemicals that make us feel warm and accomplished and loved. Even at our lowest, there is someone lower. There is someone who can benefit from hearing our story, receiving the gifts we can offer, being told that we love them. Go and help someone when you’re feeling your worst. Go and help five people. You’ll feel better.

9. Thankful for every mistake and stumble on the way to here

I’ve made a lot of mistakes. There aren’t enough people in the world for me to count them on their hands and toes. But each mistake is an opportunity to learn. It’s an opportunity to be a little better the next time, to allow myself to be more open or kind or patient or vulnerable or courageous. Every moment is a teacher. Be thankful that life wants all of us to learn, all of the time. Starting there is the first lesson.

10. Thankful for this moment, here, right now

I’m extraordinarily sad at this moment. My stomach is uneasy. My back aches. I’m thirsty. And yet what would trying to wish for anything else get me? Nothing. This is all I have. I’m thankful for every feeling and thought and twitch and sound because they’re my life. If I want to be somewhere else, I’m missing out on everything I do have. I’m trading everything for nothing. All the pain, all the joy, all the laughter, all the tears, they’re what we have. Life is all of those things. And hoping for something else won’t change that. And I’m thankful. Because I want this.