Finding Gratitude & Happiness When We are in Pain

It seems to me we that we can overcome a lot of resentment, anger and feeling sorry for ourselves if we concentrate on all the things that we have to be grateful for instead of focusing on all the things that are wrong.


By Deb Avery

I hurt, but that’s okay. It’s okay because I’m happy.

I’m happy because life is still good even with the pain.

I admit, today I am struggling. Two weeks post-op and I went for my first walk without my walker with wheels. Okay, so maybe I pushed myself a little too hard and maybe my expectations were a little too high. But all the same, for awhile there, I felt like giving up and going back to stability and reliability of my walker.

As I sit here with my laptop typing out these words, the pain still lingers still. However as my mind slowly calms, my attitude beings to morph into something more positive and I realize that there is much to be grateful for.

I made it through surgery with only minor complications. Being a high risk patient there were many things that could have went wrong, but did not. And that’s a lot to be grateful for.

It’s a little too early to know just how successful the surgery was. Another couple of weeks and it should be apparent, but I am walking without my walker. It’s not a pretty gait. There is definitely no sashaying. I limp about, stagger at times and it hurts. But I am walking. I’m still breathing. And for all those things—I am most grateful.

It seems to me we that we can overcome a lot of resentment, anger and feeling sorry for ourselves if we concentrate on all the things that we have to be grateful for instead of focusing on all the things that are wrong.

It doesn’t make everything okay. Bad things are still going to happen and we will still have to deal with our pain. But the thing is, gratitude is kind of like a magic elixir that makes everything go down a bit easier (and yes, I did borrow that from Mary Poppins).

This magic elixir called gratitude can help with all kinds of pain: the physical pain of trauma or illness, the emotional pain of losing a loved one, emotional abuse and the resulting trauma, mental illness, or seeing others suffer while feeling there is little we can do.

Ah, that last one is sometimes the toughest of all. Any parent out there will tell you that they would gladly bare the pain of their children rather than to see them suffer. To a certain extent this goes for all beings, especially children, animals and the elderly.

Sometimes, it may feel almost impossible to find the gratitude as we watch others go through the horror of abuse, trauma and pain.

But for everyone suffering through these things, there are a lot of others out there helping with the suffering. For every person or animal who feels pain deeply, there are wonderful people out there who are rescuing, giving medical care, counseling, giving support or maybe simply being there for them.

So when this type of pain seems too much to bear, just remember what Fred Rogers once said, “Look for the helpers.”

The helpers were there for me before and after my surgery. The doctors, nurses, anesthesiologist and countless others who were in charge of my health at the time. My family was there. My son was with me from very early on in the morning until I was out of danger and settled in for the overnight stay.

Having all these helpers around me didn’t make the pain go away. It didn’t stop fear from rearing its ugly head, but it did help tremendously with dealing with both of these issues. And for that, and them, the gratitude runs deeply.

I think sometimes the hardest part of of pain of any kind is the acceptance of the fact that it is simply there.

We want it to end. We struggle to make it go away and in doing so, we suffer more.

But if we can learn to accept that it’s there, and it may be there for awhile, it puts a stop to the growing feelings of resentment, fear and anger that so often cloud our perception and heap a lot of suffering on top of the pain we’re going through at the time.

The best way I know of learning to accept a situation is to learn to quiet the mind. And one of the best ways I know to do this is through focusing, meditating on finding something for which you feel gratitude—even if it’s only the old adage that things could be worse. Because really, most of the time, that is a simple truth.

Learn to be still in the midst of chaos. At first you may feel as if your mind resembles a lake that is being bombarded with huge raindrops during a fierce storm. The surface is so chaotic that it appears that it will never be placid again, let alone reflect anything of beauty.

But after awhile, the storm (feelings) begins to move on and the raindrops become less and less. Soon there are only a few ripples on the surface and things settle into a more peaceful view. Then, before long, the sun comes out and the rain stops and the beautiful, peaceful reflections of your surroundings reappear.

I know this is a simple analogy, however there are a lot of things in life that are much simpler than we humans make them out to be.

Life itself is really quite simple sometimes. It’s not something to be endured or to fear, it is a miraculous thing of beauty and possibilities. It does have its storms at times, and such is true for every being on the face of this planet.

We humans sometimes like to think that we have a monopoly on feelings and suffering, but this is not the truth. An animal or insect feel pain and can suffer as well. The difference is they live in the moment and accept the situation for what it is. They do not feel sorry for themselves, regret what once was, or seek vengeance because of what happens to them. Those are very human attributes.

May we learn to be more like the animals and live and be in the moment, enjoying the good in life but knowing that there will be times of pain as well.

And if we learn to live and simply be, we will find that there can be much more of being happy and feeling gratitude than there is pain.



Photo: Pixabay

Editor: Dana Gornall


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