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Begin the Year With Gratitude

What better way to kickstart this new year than with gratitude.

How do you deal with despair? How do you console a friend who has lost everything? Do you remind them that they are still living and breathing, urge them to harness their inner strength and look to the future, or if you are a Christian, do you open the Bible and read out the scriptures? Let's face it; it has become a challenge to focus on the glass half full rather than empty, especially in the current climate.

When tried and tested, my friends and family often remind me of what I have - a job, family, a roof over my head, not to mention the fact that I am healthy and alive. When they say these things to me, sometimes I get irritated because it suggests that what I'm facing isn't that bad. Therefore, I should deal with it and not wallow in self-pity. Instead, I accuse them of sugar-coating things and putting sunshine where it doesn't belong.

But if I'm honest, it is the times that I put my anger aside and focussed on gratitude shift that I feel truly empowered to face difficult situations. Gratitude has a way of enabling me to look the devil in the eye and declare war. Gratitude opens my eyes to the testimony behind every test and the lesson behind every trial and shifts my perspective and outlook on life. But, most importantly, by confronting my situation with gratitude, I stripe fear of its power and release myself from the clutches of hopelessness. Then, I begin to experience joy and peace that surpasses all understanding.

Adopting an attitude of gratitude has been a journey for me—constant growth, new meaning and understanding. Being grateful implies that I embrace my life in its state. It means seeing times of trials as opportunities for growth and a new awakening. It means embracing all that I am and falling completely in love with me, regardless of what I have or think that I lack. It is not having to ask, ‘why me?’, ‘what did I do to deserve this? And so on. That task, I realise, is not easy but certainly doable.

We all have the one thing that our hearts truly desire. In our minds, we feel that if we were to acquire and possess certain things, our world would be restored. So we push ourselves to the limit, competing against others instead of ourselves, resulting in undue stress and fatigue. We lose ourselves during the process. When we box ourselves in this state of mind, everything else going around me disappears into a thick fog. We lie awake at night, tossing and turning, wondering how it would feel to have that for which our heart yearns. We plan and scheme all day and night long and wallow in self-pity when things seem impossible. Our desires trap us. Then, before we know it, life passes us. The good in our lives seem miniscule, and we miss lovely and rare moments with our children and fail to see the sunshine beyond our curtains. Also, in the absence of gratitude, we alienate those around us. For how can we truly embrace our loved ones and see the good in them and appreciate them, let alone love them, when we don’t feel the same love and appreciation towards them ourselves?

If we look long and hard, we will realise just how truly blessed we are. So many people in the world long for food and walk stretches of miles, scrounging for something to put in their bellies to keep them alive. Some lack clothes, a roof over their heads, and someone to love them. Then, some are in the hospital, fighting for their lives. Not to mention the ones who did not see the New Year, 2022. Yet, we forget all this.

Understandably, we will want to achieve more than what we already have to gain satisfaction from life as human beings. I feel that it is alright to want more for ourselves, but isn't it better to adopt gratitude while at it? Since that attitude of gratitude is the very thing that opens doors to abundance.

Having an attitude of gratitude doesn’t imply turning a blind eye to the areas of our lives that need fixing. It simply means we’ve learnt to embrace the hostile areas while being willing to do what is within our control or power to improve the situation. And when we fail, we do not don’t beat ourselves up about it but are thankful for the opportunity to try.

Wishing you a wonderful New Year filled with gratitude and abundance!

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