Two years ago, I was fired for the first time ever in my 20 years of work history. Things spiraled out of control. I couldn’t find consistent full-time employed within my field. I was unemployed for well over a year; moving from Springfield to Kansas City within that period of time in hopes that the bigger job market would pay off for me. I had been in KC for almost seven months before I found a position within my field. SIGH…..what a relief, finally. To make the relief even better, about two weeks later, I was offered another position with a different company, a position that I definitely felt was a better fit, and finally got them to meet my salary requirements. My bruised ego was feeling so much healing. I was finally going to have a reliable, steady income and possibly be able to get ahead.
However, to reiterate, I was basically unemployed for more than a year. I was terribly behind on every bill I had, had begged and borrowed from nearly anyone and everyone able and willing to help me out, I had even taken out a title loan on my little car (ridiculously stupid move on my part, but I was desperate). The car quit working, overheated so badly that the office manager at my job came running out asking if I needed her to call the fire department. I was forced to enter into a car note to have reliable transportation (which is the only way for me to get to work-no public transportation from here to there, and my job actually requires as part of my contract to have reliable transportation, as I transport clients frequently).
Ya’ll….I could continue into the depths of this dark pit, but I’m going to wrap this point up by saying, inevitably I had no choice but to sell the Jeep that I bought, the title loan place picked up the little overheating Kia, I was almost evicted, but somehow managed to scrape up enough to kinda sorta get caught up. Every day that I come home, I wonder which of my utilities might be turned off. I’ve had to visit the local food pantries to be able to feed myself and my son, and there have been way too many days that I pray that I have enough gas to make it home from work. Luckily my ex is selling me his “lovely” 15-year-old car for payments. The a.c. doesn’t work, the battery cable was loose (until I fixed that), the heat doesn’t work either, and he broke the keyless entry key fob, among several other minor issues. It was genuinely humbling going from 1st my 2006 Kia, that everything worked on, until the overheating issue, then to a brand spanking new, picked out by me for myself Jeep, down to this hoopty. It has been so easy to focus on all the negative, all the dark, all the depression and despair; focusing on the worry and fear and stress. I forgot how to have a grateful heart.
Gratitude is something that I teach and constantly preach at work, and yet I had totally forgotten how to have gratitude myself while in the face of adversity. God, never once told us only to be grateful while receiving blessings, or when things are good. Yet, here I was walking around with so much darkness in my heart and within my spirit. I mean, granted, it’s been the longest two years of my life for quite some time, but so what, God also never promised that life would ever be easy; he never promised that weapons wouldn’t form, but rather that they would not prosper against his children.
So, first things first, I had to remember to maintain my relationship with God. It’s so easy to get angry and kind of snub him. However, maintaining that relationship in and of itself helps to remind you that you are his child, he cares, he will provide, and have continued faith. If you’re not a Christian, that’s ok, too. Whatever religious or spiritual beliefs you hold near and dear, lean into those, increase your spirituality and your faith in your beliefs. Secondly, I had to make a list of the many things, no matter how small, I had to be grateful for; being as specific here as possible is the absolute most important part to help cultivate gratitude in your heart. So, listing not only WHAT you’re grateful for, but also the WHY. In other words, I may say I am grateful for my son, or my daughter, but listing the many reasons why that helps build that graciousness within your spirit.
Practicing gratitude daily, with a gratitude journal, is an amazing way to cultivate gratitude, even in the face of conflict and challenges. A simple journal would merely be to list 3-5 (or hey the more, the merrier) things you are grateful for that particular day and why. There are also tons of planners and books for purchase online that are more guided, as well as several free templates. I really like the one in the link below a lot, as it not only asks you to list what you’re grateful for, but also gives you space to put the challenges you’re currently facing, but focuses on the lessons you’re learning from those challenges. It also has a place to list people in your life for whom you are grateful, and a 4th section that asks you to free write for at least 5 minutes about the best part of your day. The only change I would personally make is to remember to list the why and try not to focus on material things to be grateful for, as, trust me, those can disappear at a moment’s notice.
Gratitude is important to maintain at all times, not just when things are great, but despite the challenging times and when you experience adversity in life. Focusing on the positive things in your life not only makes you feel more at ease and at peace but also creates more positive in your life. I truly believe we get what we give. Therefore, if you give the universe negativity, you will spiral out of control and dwell in that dark place. However, if you focus on the positive, expel positive and seek positive, you will indeed find yourself basking in a universe full of positivity. I hope and pray that each of you finds a way to cultivate gratitude in your own lives, focus on the positive, and truly live a positively blessed life.