Everyone gets asked this question
It's that time of the year. Thanksgiving. The day when we're called upon to share what we're thankful for this year. The question gets asked on social media throughout the month, and usually, we can all offer three or more things that we're particularly grateful for. We say we're thankful for the sunshine, but we assume it's going to be there. We're thankful for our jobs, figuring we'll have them until we decide to retire. Usually, we offer our thanks for our family and friends, for love, for our pets, and so much more, but you rarely see one of us post that we're grateful for the money troubles, the flat tires, the days that go from bad to worse.
I think we already know the answer to this question. Isn't it difficult to be thankful for the hardships? Even if we've overcome obstacles, we don't appreciate the obstacles themselves. And if we're still in the middle of a battle, we're certainly not thankful for that. But we should be. Because overcoming obstacles makes us stronger and better people.
Annabella Hagen, a licensed mental health therapist, in an article for Psych Central wrote: Studies regarding oxytocin tell us that this hormone helps us crave for physical contact with our family and friends. It enhances our empathy and helps us support those we care about. Kelly McGonigal, a health psychologist, says that oxytocin also is released when we experience difficulties and stress. She reminds us that oxytocin prompts us to connect with others.
All of us struggle at some point in our lives, but would we really want easy lives where everything went according to plan? Where would the challenge be in that? And if we're not challenged, wouldn't life become boring? Stale? Ken Wert, who runs the website Meant to Be Happy, wrote a wonderful article about being grateful for life's challenges, and in it he said that challenges inspire compassion. Makes sense. If we go through trouble, we'll be better able to understand and sympathize with those who go through something similar.
As a Trekkie, one of my favorite episodes of the original series is when an alien entity wants to provide everything for those on her planet, leaving them nothing to do. Captain Kirk's response, provided by the incredibly talented writer Gene Coon, is perfect.
As the obstacles shape us, give us something to overcome, and provide a sense of accomplishment when we do, why shouldn't we be thankful for them? It's certainly not easy to appreciate hardship, but once we see its necessity, it becomes a little more palatable.
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