When It’s Hard To Be Thankful

There came a time after I’d been working at my job for a few years and I’d begun to feel fairly secure in my position that the higher ups announced there would be a complete reorganization of jobs. We weren’t immediately told how we would be affected and most of us didn’t know where (or if) we would land. But in an instant we’d been made aware that the ground we stood on was not as solid as we’d thought.

My job was eliminated and I was informed I would be given the opportunity to apply for new jobs within the organization. And then I found out that I was pregnant with my first child.

Because sometimes just when you think things are about as mundane as they can possibly be you’re blindsided by radical change. It’s just how life goes.

thankful

If you’ve ever been through a shake up like this at work or in any other area of your life, you know how nerve-wracking it can be. You go from assuming that things will continue on the way they have been for years to realizing that your life is about to change dramatically and in a very short period of time.

The level of stress in my office quickly reached a breaking point. Most of us were miserable and many of us were not being kind to each other. A cycle of rudeness and anger was created that, while certainly understandable, did not make for a pleasant work environment.

I’ve heard it said many times that we should be thankful for what we have because there is always someone who has it worse.

But if that’s true then should we also never be content because there are always people who have it better?

I realize that this logic is not entirely flawless, but my point is that for the most part it’s unrealistic to say that we should never experience negative emotions with regard to our current circumstances. Even in the best of times, life is not perfect. And sometimes there are no readily available solutions to our problems.

In real life there are difficult people you can’t get away from in your family or at work, jobs that bring you stress even though need the money, health problems you can’t overcome, and more. And as a result there will always be a need for us to cry or pout or whine sometimes. For me, it’s important to be a person who will have compassion and sympathy for those people going through difficult times. After all, it happens to all of us.

But after the shock wears off, or the news has had time to settle and we’ve realized that pretty soon there’s going to be a “new normal” in our daily lives…what then?

For me, it becomes a time to put my circumstances into perspective. To think about logical next steps and determine what attitude I am going to take in response to my situation.

At work, I started applying for new positions and after a couple of tries ended up in a job I liked. That was the practical side of it. But what to do about the negative work environment in the meantime?

I know a woman who is about as kind and generous with her time (and money) as anyone I’ve ever met. I know another woman who is encouraging and supportive of others in a way I’ve never seen before. I would say that both of these women are living lives of gratitude. I don’t know that I’ve ever heard either of them express thankfulness for any particular thing, but the way that they treat others reflects a thankful attitude more than any words could.

My point is that while merely listing the things in our lives that we are grateful for can be a great start to an overall change in perspective, true thankfulness is reflected in the attitudes we hold each day. A grateful life is not achieved by comparing our possessions or situations to those who are either better or worse off than us but by making the choice to use our difficulties in order to bless other people in some way, no matter how small.

And if I can do that in my life, it would certainly be something I would be thankful for.

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5 comments

  1. Jodi says:

    Andrea, I totally agree. Thanks for sharing your experience getting through a very negative environment. I’ve heard a lot about keeping gratitude journals, where every day you list things for which you are thankful. I’ve tried them and they never seemed to do much. Recently though I started a new kind of journal, where I just list my favorite parts of the day. My happy and bright moments, usually. It’s much more fun than trying to list things I think I should feel grateful for. It’s helping me cope with a time when my husband is dealing with lots of negativity and therefore I am hearing about it too. Looking for my bright spots helps me be more patient with folks who are negative, and helps me model positivity for them in a quiet sort of way. I have to say too, often my bright spots occur when I am trying to help somebody else. 🙂

    • bumblebirdblog@yahoo.ca says:

      Love it! It sounds like you went from listing the things you felt you “should” be thankful for to the things that you just naturally felt thankful for….the things that truly brightened your days and made your life better. Such a great idea! And you are absolutely right about the benefits to ourselves when we shift our focus from our own issues to helping other people with their own. I totally agree. 🙂

  2. Polen says:

    It’s really difficult to stay positive in a negative situation. I think we must accept that there will always be hard times. It’s unavoidable and is part of the process. What we need to keep on reminding ourselves is to keep going no matter what! 🙂

  3. Willena Flewelling says:

    I’m reading this just a few days after our Canadian Thanksgiving. So often it isn’t easy to be thankful… like when we lost our oldest son in Dec. ’09… or when our oldest daughter lost her husband in Aug. ’13. But there is always something about even the darkest days that we can be thankful for. And when the shock wears off, sometimes we can see how things could have been so much worse even than they are.

    Thank you for the encouraging and thought-provoking post.

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