The Illusion You Hold Over Gratitude


My Lesson on Being Grateful

We can’t be grateful for everything, right? Or can we? I’m not sure. Can we be grateful for death? Or for suffering during this lifetime? Can we be grateful for failure, or bankruptcy, or homicide, and theft? We can’t right? These are horrifying acts, and to say the least, unpleasant experiences during this human lifetime. Something deep within me told me that I could and that I should. I just didn’t know-how. How on earth could you ever feel grateful for people like Hitler? Or for the acts, he carried out into the world. How could you ever feel grateful for the stress or anxiety in your life? For the suffering, or the hardships? How could you be grateful for depression or poverty?

I wasn’t sure, and I wanted to know why I felt like I could and should be grateful for all of these things. Not just that but find out if it would make my life a bit more pleasant. It all started years back when I wrote down the following quote:

“Beauty is everywhere”

I wrote it down for a school assignment where we had to create a magazine about our lives. In that magazine, I wrote about the tough years of losing family members to the effects of cancer. When I wrote the stories I discovered the positive transformation these life events had on me. That’s where the muse, God, my soul, an inner guide showed me those three powerful words. “Beauty is everywhere” That’s where my journey began to find the beauty in everything, and I was able to do so during the good years. But life isn’t all good, there’s gonna be years of hardship and suffering. This is inevitable, however harsh this may sound. In those years, where I dealt with a lot of resentment, stress, and anxiety I let go of the belief that beauty is everywhere. I just didn’t believe that it could be possible.

Until about half a year ago. Where a lot of the beautiful things in my life broke down before my eyes, yet new things started to arise. And all of a sudden this quote made all the more sense.

Part One: The Rough Call to be Grateful For the Bad

Half a year ago I was about to finish college, which had been a constant strain for me. I wasn’t happy doing this college degree, yet I had promised to my parents, and partly to myself to finish it. It would give me something to fall back on, and give me a sense of accomplishment and strength. So I decided to continue, however rough the journey got at some point. I almost decided to quit two months before graduation. Hack I even wanted to quit weeks before graduation. That’s how far I was caught up in the belief that college wasn’t for me.

At that very same time, my relationship with my last love came to an end. This was devastating to me because in my mind we would be together till death parted us. So when this broke down, together with a rough mental situation because of school, a bumpy relationship with my parents at that time, and the lack of motivation to create and write, it felt to me as if life was purposefully working against me. There was no way I could be grateful for this.

At least that’s what I thought. That’s what I believed. It’s a natural response to think that we can’t be grateful for life to break down upon us, to make us feel bad. But funny enough it was at this time that I remembered the quote I wrote down years ago, and now actually understood its meaning.

“Beauty is everywhere, doesn’t mean we should be happy about everything that happens in our life. It means that we always strive to find the beauty, the truth in it. In other words to find a purpose behind the event.”

Being grateful for everything, especially for the bad things. Like mass-murdering, or natural disasters seems to be almost impossible, that is if you see gratitude as being happy or joyous about these events. This is how I viewed gratitude. I believed that gratitude was being happy with what you got, which seems lunatic in a situation where life becomes rough. Why did I believe this?

I believed this because we are often feeling grateful when we receive a gift. Like a present for our birthday, or when we go out and eat in a restaurant. It is often at these times where we are receiving something beautiful, that we feel grateful. That made me believe that gratitude was the same as feeling happy. So when we are in a rough spot in life we can’t be grateful, simply because we can’t instantly feel happy if we are stressed, or depressed.

If you are depressed, and can’t see life’s beauty it would be insane to force yourself to be happy and grateful. It would mean you deny the fact that you are experiencing depression. Making the experience even worse. But this is in fact what I did, and what many other people do when they want to be grateful, or happy. They force away the bad to feel good and call it gratitude.

But gratitude is different from happiness and joy. We don’t need to be happy about mass-murdering, depression, death, or any other life event that feels bad. But we can be grateful for it. Because gratitude doesn’t mean we are happy for it, it means we seek out the purpose behind the event. We seek the purpose, or the lesson behind our depression, behind the death of a loved one, behind acts like those of Hitler during the Second World War. Everything has its purpose, its meaning, we do not need to be happy about it, nor sad. We can simply appreciate it for what it is and see the purpose behind it.

Let me give you an example that can make this clear to you. If you get sick, till the point where you are likely to die from it, we can’t be happy about it. We can’t put on a smile and act as if nothing has happened. That would be insane. What we can do is be grateful for it. Now my mind instantly objected to hearing this, saying that being grateful for sickness is insane. But that is mainly because it believes gratitude means being happy with sickness. It doesn’t. If we are grateful for our sickness we see the meaning, the purpose behind it. We strive to find the truth.

This would mean that we see our sickness as a time to connect deeper with our loved ones. To experience life as much as we can. We can find meaning in it by sharing our story with the world or drawing a lesson from it to live whilst we’re healthy. To inspire others to enjoy their lives whilst they can. It is through this that we become grateful for the event. Not happy, but grateful. We make the most of it, and see the deeper meaning behind it. This transcends us past the superficial judgment of our lives.

Part Two: Transcend Through the Pain

You see we aren’t the ones who can judge life’s events. The only one who can is the higher power you believe in. Whether that be God, Allah, the Universe, or any other God entity. We can not say whether something is bad or good. For example, the experience of depression can’t be judged as good nor bad. A lot of people will object to that, they will say that depression is bad, but that’s just because you only focus on the discomfort or suffering it causes. But for many people on this earth depression, in the end, turned out to be a life-changing event. They afterward started seeing it as a beautiful event.

For me, this was the experience with the death of loved ones. At first, I hated it, despised it, but after a few years, I have started to appreciate it. After years of hate and resentment, I first started to see it as something good, but now I just see it as it is. Which is the end of the line on this planet. I take a lesson from it instead of judging it. Which is to live my life whilst I can, instead of postponing things. That made me grateful for the experience. I still would love to have my loved ones back around me, and I don’t feel happy about losing them, I just see it as something that happened and that moved me forward in this life.

That’s how we transcend through the pain. We seek the underlying truth, the thing that will transform us and allow us to grow. That allows us to be grateful for everything in life. And that has made me realize that this quote I wrote down:

“Beauty is everywhere”

Is true. There is beauty in everything, but beauty doesn’t just mean happiness or joy. Beauty means finding a deeper purpose, an underlying truth.

It is seeing that although Hitler did horrifying things, it has learned us that this is not the way to solve problems. It has shown us that mass-murdering and world wars are something to avoid at all costs. It doesn’t mean that we should happy about what Hitler did, nor that we should hate him for it. It is something he did, and it has taught us a valuable lesson. Or in this case multiple I believe. That puts you in a spot where you take responsibility for the suffering. You no longer allow yourself to feel bad about what happened, you see the lesson of that time and move on and take the lesson to heart.

“We are meant to experience sadness and pain. It is gratitude and appreciation that allows us to find meaning behind both happiness and sadness. Allowing us to live life as it is.”

The same goes for our everyday lives. When we hit a failure, a bump in the road, something we don’t like, we don’t need to be happy about it. That’s insanity. It’s what I did for years. Only causing me to feel more and more anxious and stressed. Feeling happy about everything is inhuman. We are meant to experience sadness and pain. It is gratitude and appreciation that allows us to find meaning behind both happiness and sadness. It allows us to cease judgment over life’s events.

I have found that it has made me way more relaxed and peaceful. Because I no longer feel the need to change what happens to me when it is a “bad” experience, neither to hold onto a “good” experience. Both happen, both are moments to be grateful for. There is one particular example I want to share with you, that shows the truth behind it. It is a lesson that both Jesus and Gandhi shared with the world. It is the lesson of non-judgment and instead of being grateful for all.

Part Three: Gratitude Transforms our Lives

“Gratitude doesn’t mean being happy, gratitude means finding a purpose, a meaning behind both the good and the bad.”

Both Jesus and Gandhi had something in common. They never judged an event as either bad or good. They never used violence to get what they wanted. And both men have been beaten, mistreated, and in the end, murdered for what they believed. They have both lived lives that have transformed people, nations, and the larger world without the use of any violence or judgment.

Both men had very similar lives, and both reacted to it the same way. They never judged an event. They never judged the rulers or oppressors for their actions. They never wanted to cause anyone any harm. They simply wanted to spread the Truth and love. They stopped seeing something that happened as good, or bad. And instead started being grateful for it all. They thanked their enemies because they didn’t see them as enemies anymore. They were just as much, friends to them as their closest allies were.

Imagine living the way they lived. Wouldn’t life be filled with amazement and love? Wouldn’t it be amazing to love both the good and the bad? Wouldn’t it be amazing to live life without the need to say something is bad or good? Wouldn’t it be a peaceful life? A life without fighting and struggle?

That’s what Gandhi and Jesus have shown us. Yes they struggled, yes they faced suffering, but never did they share it as such. They never said it was bad, they never got out of the way of suffering. They suffered from purpose. They only shared that it was an unnatural act to cause harm to the world, but also understood that this act came forth out of suffering itself. Therefore if they would blame the ones who caused suffering, would only increase the suffering. It would only make the problem worse.

That’s why they instead spread love and gratitude for everyone and everything. It is now that I understand that gratitude and love are closely related. Neither one makes you extremely happy, nor extremely sad. Love makes you appreciate life’s totality and so does gratitude. It is the way I want to live. To cut free from the illusion of gratitude that I have created for myself. To believe that gratitude only means happiness. And to cease the judgment more and more each day. To practice feeling grateful for everything, and see the meaning behind it all.

This of course is a personal journey and I can not make you believe it. It’s simply something I wanted to share, that I believe is the truth. But if you do not believe it there are no hard feelings. We all live different lives, and if I were to say that you should live the same as I do, it would completely deny the point I am making. Which is that gratitude means we cease to judge life as good or bad. And instead, love it for what it is.

So to get back at the question I asked myself at the beginning of this article, how can I be grateful for everything in my life? The answer is simple, to stop judging life, and instead find meaning and purpose behind everything that happens. To transcend and grow from every experience. To be grateful for all life events. To experience life’s totality and say Today I Lived! I made the most of it, by being grateful for everything.

Thank you for reading, I hope you have taken some form of value or lesson from this. Enjoy your day. Live life.

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