Why Being Thankful Makes You Happier, Even When Life Falls Apart

You’re going through some tough times. Tough times that have, and are, testing you as a person. You’re not sure how long they’ll last, and frankly, you’re a little worried as to how you’re going to pull through.

Just as sure as the sun shines, there’ll also be rain. And sometimes that rain will bring thunder, lighting, and a freaking hurricane. You’ll have financially stressful times. Relationships will end, and sometimes badly. People you love will die. You’ll be stressed, angry, devastated, and running on empty.

In these times, you sometimes want to give up, to feel sorry for yourself, to blame, to make excuses. None of that helps. None of it makes you feel better. One thing you should try doing, even if it sounds crazy, is remembering what you’re thankful for.

The Power of a Flashlight

When my mom was a little girl, she and her siblings would be home alone at night, and she would get scared. One night her older brother came to her and wanted to show her something. He turned off the light and sat down next to her. He said “It’s dark. Does the dark scare you?” My mom said “Yes!” and he switched on a flashlight. He said “Do you see how the light goes through the dark? The light can always overpower it. The darkness can never go through the light.”

That’s a story that’s stuck with me my whole life. It’s served as a metaphor for me. The bad can’t overpower the good. But you have to turn on the light. And when you do, it’ll shine through the darkness.

There are going to be bad times. It’s a balance. You can’t have good without bad. You can’t have light without dark. You can’t have ice cream without cookie dough… You get the point.

Where is the Light?

How do you find the lightswitch in the dark? By running your hand across the wall and trying not to stub your toe on all the furniture you suddenly have? Yes…but figuratively, you get thankful.

It might sound a little corny, but it’s true. Let’s say the world has crumbled around you. You have nothing to be happy about, it’s a real wreck. Will feeling sorry for yourself help? Probably not. But when you get thankful, things get better.

There is always something. Maybe you still have your health. Maybe you don’t have health but you have a great sense of humor. Maybe you have a great family supporting you. Maybe you have kids that think you’re the most amazing human being on the planet. Maybe you have teenagers that think you’re the dumbest human being on the planet… but I bet they still love you.

Maybe you have a job, or a dog, or a best freaking friend. But take stock of what you have, the good things. People get very narrow minded in times of struggle. You look at one tiny piece of your life and forget the rest. All of a sudden that one tiny piece is your whole life.

Broaden that perspective. Look at the complete picture. It’s not over. This isn’t the end of the line. There are so many ways to go from here. Maybe you got diagnosed with cancer. That’s a heavy one. It’s scary. It’s not fair. Cancer doesn’t play favorites and it doesn’t care that you have responsibilities. But studies have shown that people with good support systems and good attitudes recover faster and more completely than people that are negative or have given up.

Just by remembering what else you have, you can improve your outlook, and your life. You always have options. The options might suck, and you may wish you were never in this spot, but there are options.

Things Happen For a Reason

Not to get all airy fairy on you, but I really do believe things happen for a reason. My best friend hates that phrase. But I can’t help it.

Let me share with you a very uncomfortable, very personal reason. When I was a little girl, I was molested. As you would expect, it was awful. I still have some issues I’m trying to work through. But it’s given me some insight. It’s made me stronger. Over time I’ve learned so much about life from it.

It feels very weird to say I’m thankful for the experience, but in a way, I am. If I hadn’t gone through what I went through, I wouldn’t be the woman I am today. I wouldn’t be as compassionate. I wouldn’t be as loving to my family. I wouldn’t be as protective of my kids. And maybe someday someone will need the insight I have. Maybe someone will be crumbling and won’t know how to live after a traumatic experience and I can say something they actually hear, something that makes a difference.

So I’m thankful for what that experience taught me. I wouldn’t wish it on another human being, but I’m thankful for the fierce, unstoppable woman it has made me.

I’m thankful for so many things in my life, my husband, my kids, my family, friends, my ability to write, my sense of humor. I take stock of all the wonderful things in my life. That bad part was one little speck in the history that is me. I won’t let it taint all the good stuff. It doesn’t get to overpower the rest. Darkness can’t go through the light. But the light can cut through the darkness.

Thanks for reading. I’d love it if you clicked the follow button below to be notified of my newest posts or if you share this with just one person you think could use it. It’s my heart and soul in print, and it would mean so much.

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