After six long weeks of bed rest, our oldest son was born one week after my husband and I graduated college. When our baby was three days old, the doctors advised that he spend 22 hours a day strapped to a lighted bed to treat his severe jaundice. One day into the nonstop screaming, my husband was laid off from the dream job he was due to start in two weeks. I remember sitting next to our son's light bed, holding his hand while he continuously cried, and sobbing. We had a sick child, no money and we were losing our apartment in a few weeks even though we now had no place to go.
The next few months were a blur. We moved into a depressing basement apartment in my hometown after my husband took a job that didn't make enough to pay the bills. Our son went from jaundiced to colicky, and he spent the first four months of his life screaming every second he was awake. Broke and demoralized, I searched for ways to make it through the day.
Surviving the bad times
It took a few months of soul-searching and praying, but I stumbled upon the miracle key to making it through hard times. Gratitude saved my sanity. When we look for blessings instead of obstacles, it's easier to see that better days are still ahead.
No matter how dire our circumstances, we all have blessings to count. Most of us have family and friends who care for us. Even those of us who are alone can express gratitude for life. So long as you're living, there's always hope for a brighter tomorrow. It's easier to see that hope when you're looking for the good and not wallowing in misery. Unhappiness creates a self-perpetuating cycle, and gratitude is the key to breaking free.
Gratitude every day
Whether you're struggling with major life challenges or dealing with the annoyances of everyday life, each day you can choose gratitude. For every negative thought that enters your mind, replace it with at least one thing you're grateful for. If you're annoyed at being stuck in traffic, remember how blessed you are to even have a car. If your kids are driving you crazy, imagine a world without your kids, and I bet your attitude will change quickly. Flipping negativity on its head takes practice, but there is an upside to every situation.
There are great things all around us every day, but ingratitude becomes a way of life very quickly. I find that, when I'm stuck in a discontented rut, it helps to reframe my challenges as potential blessings in disguise. Suddenly, money woes become a chance to learn better budgeting skills. Sick kids morph into opportunities to show compassion. It might sound naively optimistic, but every cloud does have a silver lining, and gratitude is the key to finding it.
The payoff of gratitude
I spent a few miserable months trying to turn my attitude around. Eventually, I saw our circumstances as stepping stones to the future we dreamed of for our family. When I finally felt content with where I was in life, good things started happening. Six months after having our son, my husband found a good paying job in his field, and he was able to pursue a graduate degree. Six months after that, we found a house we could afford. Now, five years and two more kids later, we still rely on the strength we garnered from that challenging year.
You can make it through today. No matter how annoyed, sad, angry, depressed or hopeless you feel, gratitude will touch your heart. When you feel that life doesn't have anything good to offer, it takes some time to see the blessings around you. Keep trying. In the end, cultivating a spirit of gratitude will become your miracle to make it through whatever life throws your way.