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How Gratitude and Kindness can Help us Overcome Tough Times

Updated: 4 days ago

Sadness, anger and pain are part of life, no matter how hard we try to avoid them. In fact, we are much better off learning how to face them than trying to arrange our lives to minimise discomfort. Below is a step-by-step guide on how we can overcome tough times with the radical Buddhist practice of gratitude and kindness.

 

 

1.  Acknowledge your feelings

   

When faced with difficult emotions, the first step is to acknowledge their presence. There may be a variety of reasons why you feel the way you feel - it can be past conditioning, the energy in the room, your internal narrative, or something completely different. Whether or not we know the roots of our emotions, it is no good pushing them away. Ignoring our feelings or explaining them away would only allow them to grow stronger.

 

 

2.  Notice the light

 

While there is darkness, there is also always light, but we need to be willing to see it. To face the shadows surrounding us we have to make the effort to also recognize the moments of kindness in our lives.  

 

To do this, we can go back as far as our first memories. For many of us, the kindness of teachers or parents has made a significant difference in a gloomy childhood. Friends, relatives, or even strangers might have helped us in ways that have brought light into our lives. Similarly, even in our moments of difficulty, we might have been kind and helpful to others. We can take a moment to count five people in our lives who have helped us in one way or another.

 

A nice chat with a friend may seem insignificant amongst our struggles, but it’s essential not to discard these instances. Instead, we can resolve to cultivate gratitude for them, no matter how small they may seem.

  


3.  Practice gratitude and loving kindness

 

The practice of loving kindness has a central part in Buddhism. Through everyday mindfulness and loving kindness meditation, we can cultivate gratitude, a sense of warmth and connection that counteracts the darkness we face. See this link for a transformative kindness practice that you can do anywhere.

 

By committing to practicing gratitude and kindness on an ongoing basis, we can nurture a steady love that is independent of external circumstances. This is not a fluffy exercise, but a radical act of love that can transform your life at its core, if you let it.

 

 

4.  Reshape your perception

 

Buddhist teachings emphasize that ultimately, the world around us is not fixed, it shifts and changes based on how we see it. We can choose to perceive the world differently, even if this is incredibly difficult at times and requires hard work.

 

By focusing on the positive aspects of your life, you can gradually shift your perspective to see the beauty that exists amidst the shadows. It might be a cliche, but if we smile, the world does smile back, both literally and figuratively. If we open up to beauty and kindness around us, more will come our way. 

 

You can commit to reframing negative thoughts and beliefs, choosing to see the world through a lens of love and possibility rather than despair. This is not about gaslighting yourself or ignoring the horrors of life, but about learning to hold the two opposing sides together, as an existing paradox. By consciously turning towards the good in life, you can begin to dissolve the shadows that have clouded your vision. Remember, above the clouds there is always a clear blue sky.

 

 

5. Be patient

 

Incorporating these steps into your life can help navigate through tough times and emerge stronger and more resilient. Gratitude and loving kindness practice is not a quick fix, but a life-transforming way of being. That said, it is likely you will see its results pretty quickly.

 

While the journey through darkness may be challenging, the way out is available to all of us. In the meantime, remember to be patient with yourself and allow the process of growth to unfold naturally.

 

Buddhism provides a comprehensive system of teachings and practices that can help us face life and its challenges. If you are interested in getting a thorough overview, it is best to sign up to one of our courses at the Croydon Buddhist Centre.





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