Gratitude for the "Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad" Days

I didn’t stick to my writing schedule last week. Life did that thing where everything got terrifyingly and unstoppably out of control. And despite my feelings of guilt and frustration…the world kept spinning. No one unsubscribed (thanks fam!). No one unfollowed (or maybe they did, how do you even keep up with that?!).

The only thing that changed was my attitude. So let’s jump on in.

What does gratitude mean?

Gratitude is defined as the quality of being thankful; readiness to show appreciation for and to return kindness: she expressed her gratitude to the committee for their support

That’s why gratitude comes up so much around Thanksgiving. It can be considered one in the same. So if it makes it easier to think of ways to be “grateful” just replace it with “thankful”. Or even: appreciation, value, admiration, respect, indebtedness, recognition of the good qualities of. Hit up your local thesaurus and find a definition that you can connect with.

But more importantly, figure out what gratitude makes you feel. I find that when I express gratitude, I’m overcome by a sense of humility.

Let me explain. I have a choice about how to react when I get punched in the gut so hard that I want to throw up (which literally just happened last night). I can choose to be angry and upset and tell myself that “I don’t deserve for something like that to happen to me.” In essence, I’m saying that I’m better than my problems or my hardships. That I am somehow exempt from those things happening to me. And I did feel that way. I was pissed and thought, “I didn’t deserve that. I should be better than that happening.”

But when I choose to show gratitude for those experiences that innately upset, frustrate and anger me, I am choosing to humble myself to that experience and accept the truth that I’m not better than what happens to me. I don’t necessarily deserve for good or bad things to happen or not happen. I’m alive by the grace of God and have ZERO control as to what happens to me in life, despite my constant pretending that I do. When you stop telling yourself that you “deserve” anything in life, you create space to be thankful for everything in life, even the hardships.

Gratitude keeps me humble. It reminds me that no matter the circumstance, I am called to be thankful.

1 Thessalonians 5:16-18  (NIV)

Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.

It’s not just about saying, “I’m thankful for this terrible thing that I actually hate.” Do you really think that’s ever going to feel genuine? NOPE.

It can be a challenge, but practice thinking about the greater good and the lesson that is derived from whatever hardship you’re dealing with. Here’s what it looks like for me.

I’m grateful for:

  • Late nights at the office because I know that my effort doesn’t go unseen and hard work always paves the way to better rewards

  • Bills because, while paying them off is stressful, they teach me how to be mindful and thoughtful with how I spend my money elsewhere

  • Injuries because they give me space to slow down and heal and teach me to appreciate my body

  • Hard training sessions because they fuel the desire to win so much more than winning does alone

Just like everything else in life, gratitude takes practice. When I first started keeping a gratitude journal, I only focused on the obviously good things. It’s much, much easier, but is also a necessary part of practicing gratitude, something we’ll talk more about later.

But for now, I’m grateful for my “terrible, horrible, no good, very bad” week because it gave me the spark and the story I needed to write this blog ;)