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Thanks for the trouble.

2 May

It’s no secret that we’re happy when things are going well, and we’re thankful when we aren’t suffering. It’s so easy to be thankful when everything is fine. It’s easy to be grateful for the things we love. We give thanks for our good health, our families, our money, our cars, our food, our clothes, our homes, and the list goes on and on. It doesn’t take a lot of energy to be thankful when things are going well. We’re happy, and that’s all we need.

It’s a lot harder to be grateful for the problems we encounter. It’s hard to be thankful when someone hurts us, when we’re sick, when we’ve lost our jobs, when our cars break down, or when the money runs out. It’s even harder when we go through extraordinary setbacks – a home fire, a death, the loss of everything because of a natural disaster, a terminal disease. It’s very difficult to be thankful when things go horribly wrong. We’re unhappy, we’re scared, we’re unsure, and we’re lost.

If we look back on our lives at the times when we’ve grown the most, it’s not usually during the periods when everything was going well. It’s often during the very difficult times, when our patience was tested, and we were pushed nearly to the edge of what we could handle. It is during times of trial that we learn the most. All of our experiences shape our personalities and who we become, but the hard times shape us more than the easy times. There is value in the struggle.

Knowing that, shouldn’t we be thankful for those difficult times? They have taught us, molded us, shaped us, and given us a depth, and perspective that a life of ease could never provide. It’s hard to remember to be thankful when we’re suffering, but there are blessings to be had during the suffering, and we need to be mindful of those. This life is a tremendous gift. Even though we say we wish it were always easy, what we really want is to learn and grow, to become better people, to become wiser, and the problems we face are what bring us those attributes.

Today if things go wrong, if the tide seemingly turns against you, and you find yourself feeling bad, think about what you may learn. How will you navigate this difficulty, and what blessings will the experience bring you? And then, take a moment to remember to be thankful even when you’re uncomfortable. If we can be grateful for all of our experiences, both good and bad, we will gain a peace that is insurmountable. And a joy that is all encompassing. Nothing will stop us from going forward. We will smile at the end of each day, and be grateful for everything we experienced, both easy and hard. That’s the real secret to happiness. Embrace the hard times, rejoice during the easy times, and be thankful for all of them.