Welcome to our practice. Let’s begin…
We invite you to close your eyes and take one or two slow, deep breaths. Then open your eyes and read today’s quote by Sarah Ban Breathnach: “While we cry ourselves to sleep, gratitude waits patiently to console and reassure us; there is a landscape larger than the one we can see.”
- Let the words in the quote sit with you for a moment or two.
- What do you notice? Become aware of any feelings, sensations, thoughts, or images that might arise.
- Then read the question: What strength of character have I earned from the hard times in my life?
It is natural to find it hard to imagine and appreciate the strengths and possibilities that can emerge from our hardships. And yet, when we look back, can we identify opportunities that have been born of suffering and learning that has grown from facing our challenges? Can we coax gratitude out of the shadows of our sadness? Can we recognize strengths of character we have earned from the hard times in life?
Share your responses to any of the above in the reflection area below, write in a journal at home (or online), or simply let the quote and question accompany you throughout the day.
Notice how this exploration impacts you…and those around you.
In the midst of the difficult times in our lives, it can seem challenging to muster gratitude for much of anything, especially for the challenges themselves. And yet we can often point to our greatest learning, insight, and growth as having arisen in the rocky terrain of hard times. Everyday Gratitude, and grateful living, help us remember the larger, longer landscape of our lives and to trust that compassion, vulnerability, and curiosity can help us harvest the lessons that will become our future wisdom.
For further inspiration you might appreciate:
Adversity and Gratitude – a practice by Jennifer Wilhoit
Because Even the Word Obstacle is an Obstacle – a poem by Alison Luterman
Just Slightly West and South of A Place Called Despair – a blog by Dale Biron
The image above is excerpted from Everyday Gratitude © by A Network for Grateful Living; book design and lettering by Alethea Morrison; watercolors and cover illustration © Katie Eberts, with additional watercolors by Clikchic Designs; used with permission from Storey Publishing.
Enjoy the full eight-day Everyday Gratitude practice series.
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I just spent five years in physical and emotional pain that ran so deep at times that I can remember at least one instance where everything in the world around me looked like it was above me and I was in some very deep hole. And, yes, I can look back and see how being shattered into thousands of pieces and, with the help of several professionals and friends, finding my through, has changed me into a more compassionate, patient, accepting person. I like that. The question has caused me to ask myself if I would change anything. I would love to have become who I am without the hell, but I’m honestly not sure that would have happened. So I guess, no, I wouldn’t change a thing. But that is hindsight and not anything that helped me navigate the raging rapids. I wonder, though, since I’ve taken to gratefulness practice, would it help me now.
To be very honest I find that this quote irritates me and grates on me. The idea that there is a bigger picture out there that I cannot see to my pain, that there is something to be gained like a lesson leaned takes me out of the present moment and into some future time that most likely will never happen. What if the pain just is? What if there is no larger landscape? I’m thankful for the now of the pain – not for the pain of and by itself but for the “now” that holds that pain.
Thank you for your feedback, Joel – we appreciate you expressing your resistance to this quote and question, as this is part of the practice. It seems to me that your experience may not actually be in opposition to the quote itself, but perhaps to the question. I think the “larger landscape” referred to in the quote leaves room for an invitation into the moment itself – perhaps the larger landscape is the place where “pain just is,” where the “now can hold that pain.” The question does in some ways encourage one to consider seeing beyond the now and “gaining” something from the experience like a lesson learned, so perhaps reading the quote separate from the question, will invite a new experience of the quote itself. -Rose, on behalf of the Gratefulness team.
Yes, I think you are correct about the question and reading the quote separate from it. The word “earned” in the question is seems misplaced – like stepping on a thumbtack..
Well said I think Joel. It’s refreshing to hear your response. Thank you.