Gratitude in Complicated Times

We are in the season of gratitude and yet it’s complicated. The emotional state of our collective is in a word: heavy. Nobody is happy. Everyone is experiencing discontent and there are multiple camps exclaiming their version of why. We’ll save that unpacking for the experts.

How do we find gratitude in these difficult times? How do we make room for our gratitudes without dismissing our grief, our frustration, or our dissonances? I have been wrestling with this regularly. Maybe you have as well. 

All I have come up with is radical acceptance. This is a term I first heard from Tara Brach many years ago when I read her book, “Radical Acceptance: Awakening the Love that Heals Fear and Shame.”

In this instance, what I mean is radically accepting that these times feel emotionally fraught. Instead of fighting against it, spiritually bypassing it, or pretending it’s not happening, we make room. We make space for it all. For me what helps to make space for it all are early morning walks, journaling, meditation, and time in quiet. I need these practices to help me increase my tolerance, and expand my capacity to sit with what is. 

In these spaces, I start to recognize how grateful I am that I have learned these tools and practices, especially in the last few years. I feel fortunate that synchronicity has led me often to the right learning at the right time and I had the good sense to receive it. The times we are in feel incredibly dense and yet without the tools I have picked up they would be even harder. For that truth, I am deeply grateful.

I have tremendous appreciation for the many teachers I have had on this road. Some of whom I know personally and others who have taught me from their books, or YouTube channels, or Instagram accounts. All of these people have offered me lifeboats, life jackets, swimmies, noodles, and all forms of floatation devices. The truth of this I cannot overstress. The gratitude for this I cannot overstate.

What I am grateful for most right now is my ability to stay present. This doesn’t mean I don’t ever engage in escape activities like watching movies, zoning out to cat videos, etc but I have equally cultivated the endurance to stay, to sit with my pain, my grief, my disillusionment and to let it work its way through. 

As we move into this holiday season, I am grateful that I am growing and learning how to push gently against my resistant and fearful spaces. I am learning to let go of the fear of what I may feel as I walk through this life. As Glennon Doyle says in her book Untamed, “I learned that I’d never be free from pain but I could be free from the fear of pain, and that was enough.”

For these things in these uncertain times, I am grateful.

Sunshine & Sarcasm,
Lowi & G

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