7 Steps to Finding Gratitude in Challenging Life Situations

finding gratitude Life brings with it many moments of pain and great challenges, but it is how you choose to respond to them that will make all the difference in the world. They can destroy you or they can be catalysts to your mental, emotional and spiritual growth.

Your attitude to these events can change over time, provided you make the personal effort to heal the wounds. Some of the greatest challenges in your life can be the very events that are the most life changing for you and in time you may even be able to look upon them with gratitude. It doesn’t happen automatically.

There is a healing process, but eventually you can find that gratitude. Here are some steps to begin you moving in the direction of finding gratitude.

1. Be courageous, meet your challenge with compassion

As a culture in the world, at large we do what we can to avoid pain. In the body, pain is an indication that we need to change something about the way we are living life, it is something that we can be grateful for.

If we did not have that pain we might slowly destroy our bodies. This doesn’t mean that we purposefully subject ourselves to pain, but it does mean we can respond to it rather than avoid it.

The same is the case for our emotional and mental pain. It is a warning signal that we need to change something about the way we are living.

Things to Ponder:

  • What pain have you been avoiding in your life?
  • How do your debts make you feel?
  • What conversations have you been putting off with loved ones?
  • What health concerns have you been brushing off and ignoring?

You have within you the courage to face them head on and that is the only way you change them.

There is no coming to consciousness without pain. People will do anything, no matter how absurd, in order to avoid facing their own Soul. One does not become enlightened by imagining figures of light, but by making the darkness conscious. ~ C.G. Jung (Tweet this)

2. Drop the judgement

From one perspective the situation you are going through is unfair, wrong, painful or not what should have happened. As long as you sit in judgement of what has happened you are unable to find the gifts.

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On the journey through a challenge you may have to let go of many judgments, but the more you notice them, the easier it will be. If you believe that you attracted a negative situation because of your negative thoughts, you will resist your negative thoughts even more and they will end up having power over you.

Negative thoughts are not helpful, but pretending they don’t exist does not make them leave your mind.

Things to Ponder:

  • What judgements about your challenge do you need to release? Write them down throughout your days when you become aware of them. Our judgements are calling us to accept something.

3. Accept exactly where you are at

If you desire to be an entrepreneur and see that working a job is for losers, yet you have to work a job at this time, you will be unable to find happiness in the now moment. Too many people have jumped ship prematurely and ended up hurting themselves because they were not accepting of their present situation.

Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. It turns what we have into enough, and more. It turns denial into acceptance, chaos to order, confusion to clarity. It can turn a meal into a feast, a house into a home, a stranger into a friend. Gratitude makes sense of our past, brings peace for today and creates a vision for tomorrow. ~ Melody Beattie (Tweet this)

Acceptance is powerful for healing our life. It is not about giving up and saying that you will settle for less than what you want, it is that you are accepting what is so that you are no longer fighting it.

From this place you are able to become aware of the lessons that wish to present themselves as well as the joy that can be found in any moment. When you can be okay and accept where you are right now, you will maintain the energy and life force you need to move to where you want to go.

Things to Ponder:

  • What about the situation you find yourself in do you need to accept?

4. What did you learn as a result of that challenge?

Within our most painful life experiences are inevitably profound insights waiting to be revealed to us. Your lessons may be of a spiritual, mental or physical nature, or possibly all three. They can be lessons that change your whole outlook or approach to life.

There are many stories of business people who failed continuously until they were successful in their business. They learned many ways of doing things wrong before learning how to do it right. You may acquire knowledge from mentors who have been there before you, but you acquire wisdom through your own experience of the journey and your own creativity.

Things to Ponder:

  • Think of a challenge from the past that you resolved or have healed from. What lessons did you learn from that experience? List them out.

5. What relationships grew out of this painful situation?

At the deaths of loved ones – families can reunite. Long held grievances are forgotten when people allow themselves to feel their shared pain and come together once more. It is not the only step in the healing process in such instances, but it is often a first step. The pains we share in common are the ones that bring us together.

Things to Ponder:

  • What friendships grew out of your own painful situations? You may have met people who experienced similar challenges who have lessons to share with you. List off the friendships and people that you met as a result of meeting your pain head on.

6. How did that painful experience affect your choice of profession in life or where you sought to contribute?

Many people who struggled to find answers to health problems in the medical traditions of the west found themselves being helped by holistic traditions. As a result a passion grew within them to help other people who suffered in the same way and might also benefit from the same modality of treatment. This happens in all kinds of callings where people seek to be of service to others after having learned things the hard way.

Their moments of pain become blessings to others who are walking a similar path and struggling in similar ways. As an example, many who suffered at the hands of domestic violence have found a way to make sure nobody else suffers as they did. They have found a sense of purpose as a result of their tragedy.

Things to Ponder:

  • List off the choices you made to contribute society and note how they stemmed from a personal challenge you faced in life.

7. Who have you become as a result of your experience?

Two people can experience the same life situation and come out of it in very different ways. Their attitude is the determining factor. Many women report to having become stronger as a result of standing up to abusers from their past by stepping away from the relationship. Someone who has experienced physical pain has come to have a much greater respect and love for their body, taking care of it as best they can.

They become beacons of health to those in their lives. If you are in the process of healing from such a situation in your life then you are changing as a person in some way or another.

Just think how many people claim to have found happiness and joy as a result of how they chose to respond to something that happened in the past. Apply these steps continuously and one day you will be on the path to finding gratitude for the most challenging of life’s experiences.

Have you already applied any of these steps? How did they work for you? What can you add? Please share your thoughts in the comment section below.

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About the Author

Matthew Ashdown, with fellow GratiDude, Brad Morris, launched the Gratitude Dance video in 2007 and enjoyed co-hosting the VoiceAmerica.com radio show "Manifesting Awesomeness". His Masters degree in Aerospace engineering helps him combine his passion for science and exploration of the outer world with his exploration of the inner world.

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