When the world first saw this Earth Rise photo, taken by Apollo 8 astronauts of the earth rising over the horizon of the moon, it forever changed the world’s perspective about our place in the universe. May this article change your perspective on gratitude and enlighten you to include all things, good and bad, in your gratitude.
During the Thanksgiving Holiday in the United States, we give thanks for our blessings. In America, we have much to be thankful for but our gratitude list is shorter that it could be.
Let me explain. It’s easy to be thankful for your kids, your house, your job, your mate, your family. But what about that rude customer who called and wanted you to jump through hoops at the last minute, then didn’t even thank you — or your jerk boss who didn’t give you the raise you deserved — or your bonehead neighbor who never returned your chain saw?
Remember your sister-in-law, Rose, who borrowed $500 and never paid you back, or your spouse who dragged you through an ugly divorce? Don’t forget the cop who gave you the speeding ticket you didn’t deserve. Are you thankful for the backstabbing salesperson that embarrassed you in front of the people you wanted to impress the most?
Everyone has many negative experiences and circumstances; it’s a part of life.
On the surface, we aren’t very grateful for these experiences, but it doesn’t have to be that way…
“The law of gratitude is the natural principle that action and reaction are always equal and in opposite directions.”
- Wallace Wattles, The Science of Getting Rich
For every negative experience, circumstance, or setback, there is an equal and opposite positive potential opportunity, you just have to look for and take advantage of it. Try this perspective lifting exercise to see what I mean.
For each of the negative experiences, I’ve made a statement that affirms a positive aspect:
- “Even though that customer was rude and ungrateful, I am thankful for him because now I know what I don’t want in my ideal customer and I can cut him loose.”
- “Even though I didn’t get the raise I wanted, I am thankful because now I realize that I am not satisfied with my lousy job. Getting that raise would have kept me from looking for a better one.”
- “I am thankful Rose didn’t pay me back because now I am more careful with my money.”
- “Even though the divorce was a heartbreaking experience, I am so grateful for my new insights, because now I know what I need in a relationship and what it takes to make a good one.”
- “I am thankful for the speeding ticket. I was in too much of a hurry to pick the kids up at soccer practice and probably avoided an accident. Now I am a more careful driver and better example for the kids.”
- “Well my neighbor is a bonehead after all and the chainsaw was underpowered anyway. I’ll just get the new chainsaw I wanted; I hear there is a sale at Walmart!”
- “Thank goodness for the experience with Todd, because now I know only to hire and work with people I trust.”
Now you can see how a simple shift in perspective turns a bad experience into a positive force in your life. Our negative experiences really are blessings in disguise; but you have to recognize the opportunities contained in them.
Giving thanks for EVERY experience, good or bad, focuses you on the positive things you want in life.
“And because all things have contributed to your advancement, you should include all things in your gratitude.”
- Wallace Wattles, the Science of Getting Rich
Put this exercise to the test and start giving thanks for the negative experiences and circumstances in your life. You will discover that focusing on the things you DO WANT instead of those things you DON’T WANT will bring more good things into your life!
Here are three things you can do immediately to put these ideas into action:
- Make a list of the top five negative experiences in your life
- Examine each item and identify the one thing you learned from the experience
- Next to each item on the list of top-five negative experiences write the following, in the form of an affirmation, and then read them out loud:
“Even though I had [negative experience,] I am grateful [what I am thankful for.]”
Now that you have started a gratitude list, you can add to it the good things too. Review your list often and keep it updated, and don’t forget to read it out loud… This simple but powerful shift in perspective; to include ALL THINGS, good and bad, in your gratitude, could change your life!