I saw a gratitude challenge floating around Facebook recently that caught my eye:
“List three things you’re grateful for.”
The goal was for people to post three things per day for seven days, then tag a friend to carry on the challenge.
It was fun to see people’s posts and refreshing to be reminded of the beauty of birds, waves and laughing children, however …
I didn’t seem to find anyone grateful for sadness, struggle, disappointment, rejection, failure, or heartache.
I know that seems weird. I mean, why would anyone want to be grateful for things that are sad and difficult especially when you consider what’s going on in the world, right?
But wait, I don’t mean bash the sad, woe is me, my life sucks, get me out of this dark abyss. I mean, what about an appreciation for the lessons learned through rejection because they taught your character a lot about resilience?
Why have we deemed struggle a bad thing?
A few days ago my cousin sent me a text with a quote from a guy named Hugh Mackay. I’ve never read his book, The Good Life – but if his quote can pack a ton of punch, I’m sure his book would not disappoint. I share it because it’s so true about our society.
We love quotes that say, “enjoy the journey,” “love the process,” “focus on who you’re becoming,” but we don’t like to live these quotes. Liking them and living them are two very different things.
But trials will always play bad cop if our end goal is to smile and “feel” happy again.
Triumphs will always play good cop if we view tears and sadness as outcomes to be avoided.
Every emotion is part of the struggle.
Every struggle is part of the process.
Everything we process is part of the journey.
And our journey is for a lifetime.
There’s something to be grateful for in every day, everything, every emotion and every season of life.
“The pursuit of happiness seems to me a really dangerous idea that has led to a contemporary disease in Western society, which is fear of sadness. It’s a really odd thing that we’re now seeing people saying, “write down three things that made you happy today before you go to sleep,” and “cheer up,” and “happiness is our birthright,” and so on. We’re kind of teaching our kids that happiness is the default position. It’s rubbish. Wholeness is what we ought to be striving for and part of that is sadness, disappointment, frustration, failure; all of those things which make us who we are. Happiness and victory and fulfillment are nice little things that also happen to us, but they don’t teach us much. Everyone says we grow through pain and then as soon as they experience pain they say, “Quick! Move on! Cheer up!” I’d like just for a year to have a moratorium on the word “happiness” and to replace it with the word “wholeness.” Ask yourself, “Is this contributing to my wholeness?” and if you’re having a bad day, it is.” —Hugh MacLay