Gratitude is the most potent antidote to the poison of sorrow.
Developing gratitude doesn’t heal your wounds.
Gratitude doesn’t allow you to violate the laws of the universe to travel back through time to undo transgressions.
Gratitude doesn’t reduce the emotional impact of a negative occurrence in your life.
The power of gratitude is that it gets you to see the world from an unselfish perspective.
(Read: “5 Reasons Why You’re Unhappy”)
Developing Gratitude And The Analogy To Light
Gratitude isn’t the sunglasses that protect you from bright light. Rather, it’s the neck which turns your head to look at something less damaging.
This isn’t the same as ignoring a problem.
Ignoring the problem is going inside and never facing the intense sunlight again. Gratitude forces you to remain an active participant in the world until the intensity of the light decreases.
Now if you’re already sunburnt, looking away from the sun won’t undo the damage. It won’t make it heal faster. It won’t even reduce the pain.
But it will allow you to see that you have things other than the limb that have suffered damage.
Pain brings focus. Often this is a positive, but when you can’t focus on anything else but the accompanying misery, you’re no longer living.
Your pain can be physical, mental or emotional.
It may be permanent, it may heal in a few weeks, or it may heal instantly.
The pain may be slight, mild or severe.
Regardless of its type, duration or severity, gratitude works because it forces you to focus on something other than your own suffering.
(Read: “8 Valuable Lessons I Learned From Losing on National T.V.”)
Developing Gratitude Requires Focus
There is a rule the universe can’t break:
No two things can occupy the same space at the same time. Your thoughts, though you are unable to touch them, are not exempt from this rule.
You think you’re holding many thoughts simultaneously, but you’re just quickly switching your focus between them.
You can only hold one thought at a time. Gratitude relies on this fact.
If you focus on something good, it’s impossible to you think about the bad. Your concentration and focus may waiver in doing so, but that’s alright.
All that matters is that you quickly regain your gratitude perspective.
You refocus on the constructive and positive forces in your life; Not on the destructive and negative agents.
Developing Gratitude Means Remembering What You Have
I can hear the objections. “What if there is nothing good in my life? My life is terrible and everything is painful to look at! How can this gratitude perspective work for me if my life is miserable?”
To this unfortunate soul, I say one thing: You’re being selfish.
If you’re alive, then you’re part of a fantastic world. There’s so many things that make it wonderful. You’re just focusing on the wrong stuff.
Once in my life, things were getting bad. To combat my feelings of self-pity, I admired all the pretty girls around me. There are blind people in the world and I’m grateful that I get to enjoy this part of nature.
You might say, “That’s just eyesight! There’s nothing special about that!”
Then you’re missing the point. Your eyesight, like all things in the world, is a privilege.
You aren’t promised eye-sight any more than you’re promised a hot meal or a place to sleep at night. Even if you only have the clothing on your back, but grateful for that.
Developing Gratitude Makes You A Creator
Take unselfish action.
When you add to the world, it’s impossible to focus on your own problems.
If you elevate the world and the people in it, you have less time to wallow in self-pity.
Shaping the world makes you a creator. What you create is part of you, even if you do not possess it. You look forward forward to building happiness rather than wallowing in misery.
In this way, you build something to feel grateful towards.
Gratitude changes your focus. This is necessary. Pain distracts us from the world, preventing us from acting purposefully. Obsession with sorrow causes paralysis.
It’s only through action that we move on and gain perspective. It’s not time alone that gets you past something. You need to do things that force you to focus on the better parts of life.
This is The Formula For Developing Deep Gratitude
Switch your focus to something which brings you joy.
If you have nothing, create something or build someone up.
Do the last step anyway. It dramatically decreases the time spent feeling sorry for yourself.
The rest is up to you.