Sometimes gratitude isn't enough.
As both a student and teacher of yoga, I find myself reflecting on this phrase a lot this year. Gratitude, most days, especially this year, really just isn't enough.
But we say it all the time, this industry seems to capitalize on the feel-good high of being yogic, woke, in-tune. Yet turns a blind eye to the truth of the matter; Life is hard and unfair, suffering is inevitable. "Be grateful" we say as we type on our tiny screens, in warm homes, surrounded by access and ease. It's easy to chime in from a place of comfort things like, "let it go", "it all works out as it should" and "trust the process." Life, for a lot of us, isn't like this, it isn't always shruggable, laughable, or simple. In fact, it hurts, it’s hard, it feels impossible and heavy.
2020 has made this abundantly clear. This year was a year to grieve an old way of life. How we used to live has now changed, transformed, shifted. There is quiet mourning for the way things were before, and it reflects in our eyes as we smile under the crease of a mask, a tinge of sadness, an echo of familiarity. We don't even have to talk about it, we just know, we all lost something this year.
And so the practice of gratitude has seemed a little fruitless. How do we call on gratitude for grief? Where do we find that kind of strength?
Gratefulness alone means nothing without Faith. The kind of faith I'm referring to isn't the religious kind, although it is similar, it's the kind of faith that requires "complete trust or confidence in someone or something", in particular, yourself. Gratitude means nothing if you don't believe in the purpose you attach behind it. I have never been a very religious person but earlier this year I reconnected to the practice of prayer because it was getting hard to see the light. I needed to tap into something divine, to tap back into myself. I needed to remember that I was made with purpose, that I could get through each day with the prayer of 'Thank you', even if for the tiniest circumstances. I could learn to be grateful for the pain, the disruption, the adversity not because it was easy to do, but because it was hard to do. In learning to find gratitude in the dark, I could fully believe that there would be light. Gratitude restored my faith, but faith strengthened my gratitude. I had entered a mental dojo of sorts, where I was relearning what it meant to be grateful, I couldn't just pretend anymore, I had to make a conscious effort to pay attention, to listen, to dig deep into myself and believe in the words I spoke. I had to trust life, right, but even harder than that, I had to trust myself.
Faith has taught me that I no longer needed to see the light; I could believe in the light, feel the light, be the light. Faith restores strength, it gives us the power to believe that we can do difficult things. Faith is a muscle that needs work, and it’s through this practice of gratitude that we strengthen our muscles of trust and confidence in ourselves. Faith is a reclamation of power. We have to believe in what we say in order to give power to the prayers in our hearts.
As we approach the holiday season, I think of that saying, "Tis the season for Believing". I hope you take time this season to believe in yourself, to believe that you are the most powerful person in this story. And while we all have faced grief, loss, and tragedy, we can and will always be the hero of our stories. Gratitude will never be a band-aid for suffering, but it is a vehicle for healing. Faith is how you take back your power, it’s how you know you don't have to see the light to know you are the light. So even on your darkest days, you'll know, that all you have to do is shine brighter.
Maybe this year we didn't just survive, we lived.
Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays, I love you. Thank you.
If you liked this blog, check out our other blogs like our "The Ultimate Fall Checklist", "Love & Life: Advice to My 25-Year-Old Self", "8 Ways to Show Yourself Some Kindness", and "The Secret of Self-Care: Approach over Action"