It’s easy to be grateful when things are going well or when things are going your way and you’re winning in life. It’s easy to be grateful for things that make you feel so peaceful, happy, and carefree. You already know the importance of gratitude and how it helps you put things in perspective. Gratitude is a healthy part of life and essential for happiness and good health.
However, more often than not, life leaves us disappointed, dejected, and jaded, especially when we don’t get what we want and we feel like we’re being pushed down until we’re so broken that we lose motivation to fight back. We feel like we’re not good enough and that makes it seem impossible to look at the brighter side of life because we feel like we’re losing and never going to redeem ourselves.
But life’s obstacles are there to humble us and to strengthen us. This is not another platitude, this is truth. Whenever you think you have all the answers and you’re so certain of your future, life is waiting around the corner, just about to wipe that smug smile off of your face.
There are times when insurmountable challenges have the most power to change how we think and act in the face of fear and when the stakes are high. In fact, it’s the only way we can look at our weaknesses head-on and push ourselves to be better.
Here are the most common yet dreaded experiences that are still worth being grateful for:
1. Job rejections
I know this can be the most devastating thing in your life because your livelihood and health literally depends on being accepted. I know how hard it is to be measured up against people who seem to have more charisma, talent, and experience than you. Although it hurts, it’s there to teach you three valuable lessons: you need to show your best self to get accepted, working hard doesn’t guarantee success, and the jobs you keep getting rejected for may not even be a good fit for you. See this as life’s way of telling you that there’s another path that’s truer to who you are as an individual and another place where people genuinely see you as a valuable team member who’s more than just a worker.
2. Rejections in your personal endeavors
Assuming that you’re a human with hobbies and interests outside of work, you probably have attempted to get your personal projects published, or at least, noticed by a small group of people. Getting rejected for something you love can seem even tougher than something you don’t love because you’re pouring your heart and soul out and all you’re getting is “This isn’t good enough.” This is a blessing in disguise because it makes you less attached to your own self-importance and more open to constant evaluation, which improves everything you put out to the world.
It hurts not to be wanted, doesn’t it? And it hurts even more when you’re spending all this time with someone who can’t even notice how lovely you are or love you unconditionally. Heartbreak is there to teach you that if people don’t reciprocate your feelings, then it’s a complete waste of time to be pining after them. Having your heart crushed in the most devastating way is there to teach you that real love must come from within, you don’t need someone else’s love to fill some emotional void, and you are lovable just the way you are. Forcing yourself to be someone you’re not just to earn the love of others is the foundation of perpetual misery. But walking away from those who don’t love you back is the ultimate freedom and that’s enough to be grateful for.
You may have been working on something you loved for so long and feel guilty about killing a dream. Or you may have been quitting something you hated and still feel like you’re not good enough because you haven’t built enough endurance to deal with what you hate. But there are so many things to be grateful for when quitting. You know what works or doesn’t work for you. You’re open to other alternatives and are constantly evaluating yourself in the process. You’re letting go of attachments that may have been obsessive and you’re starting to see that just because you quit, you’re not a perpetual quitter or a failure. You’re just being honest about what you can or can’t handle.
5. Not succeeding after many attempts
It can be frustrating and demoralizing to see all your hard work amount to nothing. And it can be especially difficult if people around you say you need to try harder, even when you’re exhausted and you hate yourself for not succeeding after so many attempts. But you aren’t destined to be a failure forever just because you failed multiple times at something that was challenging and had no clear-cut solution. Everything takes longer to achieve, and you learn a lot about yourself when you aren’t handed an easy solution. You also learn about what is worth suffering for and if something is right for you, you’ll suffer through it and still experience so much joy in fighting the good fight. It makes you realize that gratitude isn’t conditional. It’s abundant within you, no matter what you have or don’t have.
6. Your upbringing
You may hate the way you were raised and feel as if you’ve been held back. Your parents may have been negligent, overbearing, or both. They may have been too careless or too careful. They may have been the first to kill your passion or they didn’t care at all. Or maybe you had no parents and were raised by other relatives. No matter how you were raised or where you came from, you’ve probably had some tough times growing up and accepting yourself as you were. These experiences are still worth being grateful for because they enlighten you on how you should treat other people, how you should treat yourself, and how to be more understanding so that others can feel like they can accept themselves for who they are and don’t feel pressured to earn the love of everyone around them, including their families.
7. Death of someone close to you
Death is not something to be trivialized and you’re allowed to grieve for as long as your heart needs to. Although it is incredibly painful to feel the absence of a loved one, death is there to remind you that your life is impermanent, you’re not all-powerful, and you need to make the best use of your time because it’s not guaranteed that you’ll live a comfortable, stable life that’s free of accidents or diseases. Death is there to remind you that if you’ve been living in fear and self-doubt for so long, now is the best time to shine and do all the things that make you truly come alive.