Gratitude is the Key to Getting through Tough Times

Life has its ups and downs, there’s no way of getting around that. I believe that life’s difficulties and setbacks happen to strengthen us, to help us grow, and to teach us lessons. We always have a choice in how we navigate through tough times. We can either strap in for the ride and realize that while we don’t have control over the terrain being bumpy, that we do have control on how we steer through the bumps on our journey; or we can choose to engage in resistance, complaining about the bumps, and continuing to look back through the rearview mirror, making us re-live each bump over and over again, instead of looking forward.

In 2015-2016, I went through long-term health problems. I was a completely different person back then and I would easily slip into a victim mentality. I constantly complained to anyone and everyone, I held resentment over why this was happening to ME, and I was always focused on all the negatives about my health. All of which kept me stuck in a cycle where I didn’t expect to get better or to heal, and life would only prove me right time and time again.

I saw multiple doctors and went through 3 surgeries over the course of a year before I finally healed. I remember that things only started improving (finding a better doctor, getting a clear diagnosis, fixing the root cause of the issue), when there was a shift in my mindset. Instead of focusing on the past, and how every doctor wasn’t effective in treating my health problems and fearing that I would never get better, I kept my focus on the future. The future where I knew that I would be healed and healthy again.

Having faith is like seeing the light at the end of the tunnel, expecting to see that light, before actually seeing it yet. Faith doesn’t have to be about being spiritual or religious; even if you’re not either of those things, you can still have faith. All faith is, is holding on to hope. Faith is focusing on the better future that’s coming, rather than living in the past which keeps you in a state of fear.

Recently, my dog Ranger unexpectedly had 5 seizures. He’s always been a pretty healthy dog, so these health issues felt like they came out of nowhere, and it was huge shock for me and my boyfriend. The entire experience was traumatizing because we thought we were going to lose him.

If you know Ranger, you know he is the sweetest, most happy and jubilant dog. He’s now on anti-seizure medication which thankfully have stopped the seizures, but unfortunately cause a great deal of unpleasant side effects.

This experience is really testing my faith. I’ve had to watch my dog be sad, drugged up and out of it, wobble and stagger when walking, sometimes even falling over, and despite seeing all of this physical evidence in front of me, choose to instead focus on the future where he is healthy and happy. How do I do that?

I keep my mind immersed in gratitude. You might wonder how it’s possible to express gratitude in difficult situations. There is always something you can find to be thankful for, even if it’s small, and by focusing on gratitude you keep your mind positive which steers it clear from fear.

I’m thankful that we found a wonderful vet who is compassionate and invested in healing animals through integrative care, merging western medicine with eastern medicine. I am thankful I was referred to an animal energy healer, so that Ranger can receive holistic healing on all levels, which will only expedite his healing journey. I am thankful that Ranger is alive and that he is determined to get through this rough patch. I am thankful for my boyfriend, family, and friends who all love, care, and adore Ranger just as much as I do, and have been offering their support and love.

I wouldn’t ever have wished for this experience to happen, but I know that it is only strengthening me and reminding me of all the blessings in my life. I am sharing this story because I know more than anyone else, how hard it is when life pulls the rug from underneath us. But, we can’t move forward if we sit there dwelling about having fallen down. We move forward by expressing gratitude for having the ability to pick ourselves up, gratitude for the hands that are there to help us when we’re unstable, and gratitude for the opportunity to live another day.