Connecting with the Heart of Gratitude Even in Challenging Times

Sagel Urlacher Lovingkindness Metta MeditationThis time of year can be overfull with love and beauty and togetherness, and it can also bring uncertainty, stress, and sorrow. Each year is so different, and different for all of us. We know that connecting with the heart of gratitude we carry helps us be happier, and healthier too. I find keeping a gratitude journal helps me do that for all of the beautiful spirits and circumstances that surround and bless me. But being grateful when difficult times present themselves is pretty challenging.

I’ve been sitting with Thich Nhat Hanh’s reflection on how things are more connected than we might at first think. That if you try to hold one side of a piece of paper in your hand but throw the other side away, you won’t be very successful. They can’t be separated – where one side is, the other is too. Trying to keep this very simple truth in my heart. When grief or sadness arises, it can be so difficult. But like the paper, there’s not just one side. Where there is grief and sorrow, then too deep love must be there. Without deep love and caring, grief is not possible. Even in the presence of sorrow, there’s a doorway to gratitude. “Thank you grief, for showing me how much love is in my heart.” And it’s okay if that journey takes as much time as we need.

Don’t be shy about reaching out and leaning on the support you need. Like Ram Dass says, in the end we’re all just walking each other home. However these holidays are finding you, may you be present, patient and soft with what is, welcoming both sides of whatever is arising. In this way, we see that what can seem like an obstacle to gratitude might actually be an opportunity for us to whisper – thank you. It’s not easy but I think it’s true.