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Can you be grateful even for the difficult parts of life?

To listen to the audio version of this blog, click here.

As we continue to enter the week of Thanksgiving, I am feeling so called to focus on gratitude. Especially considering the last few days of my life have been truly epic.

If it’s true that one of the only things we can control is the meaning that we give the events of our lives, then we are responsible for how we meet life. We can’t always control what happens to us, but we can control and choose to either react or respond. When we come from a place of gratitude, even for the hardship in life, we empower ourselves to make the best of it.

And frankly, that is all any of us can really do. We can choose to make the best of it. We can’t control what hand we were dealt in life. We can’t control the government, or the economy or even those that we are in relationships with. But we can indeed control what we bring to those circumstances.

Something that I’ve seen over and over again is that we tend to think – I tend to think – that life “should” be easy. But it’s not. M. Scott Peck reminds us in his GENIUS book “The Road Less Traveled” that “life is difficult. And when we accept that life is difficult, it ceases to be difficult.”

Let’s just say for the sake of this blog that we are going to assume that life is difficult. There are setbacks. There are trials. Things aren’t always going to go our way. We make mistakes. We mess up. We don’t get it right. We experience failure. We experience lack. We experience rejection and doubt and worry and fear. Not everyone is going to accept us. Not everyone is going to like us. Not everyone is going to agree with us.

But what of it? What if we just assumed, acknowledged and recognized that these are all a natural part of the human experience? And if that were the case, wouldn’t our time be so much better spent in acceptance of this rather than denial or some arrogant assumption that we shouldn’t be prone to Life as it is? Notice, I didn’t say TOLERATE… I said ACCEPT. We must first accept things before we can change them. We must first accept there is a problem, or an addiction, or a shortcoming or a mistake before we can change it. Toleration of something isn’t’ what I’m talking about. Things need to change, but we can’t change what we can’t accept.

And acceptance in all of this, especially since we know that there will be things in life that will be difficult to accept. Wouldn’t it be so much better to bring a grateful attitude to the opportunity to transform our world and our lives? If we can accept that life is difficult, then we’ve gotten over a great big inner hurdle where a part of us thinks otherwise. Then, instead of bringing entitlement, arrogance, denial or victimhood to life, we can bring gratitude for the opportunity to change and transform.

Marianne Williamson once told me that we cannot transform something if we are judging it. If we judge life as too difficult, too hard, too annoying, too (fill in the blank), then we have no energy to transform it.

Change is difficult. Life is difficult. But what of it? This is how it has been since the beginning of time. And every generation gets easier and easier to live. So, what inevitable difficulties can you be grateful for today? I’m curious?

As always, the action happens in the comments below. Leave a comment and join the conversation! The TDL Community thrives in the comments and it’s a GREAT place to get support!

Love,

Mastin

  • Karen

    I like this.  I am one who is constantly saying life is getting too hard.  I am getting older (57) and life seems to be getting harder.  And I get down.  But no, I know I should accept the cards I am dealt, as you said.  My life hasn’t been all that bad.  I am struggling with a few things but they aren’t that bad, they aren’t going to kill me!  What does not kill you makes you stronger right?  Thanks for this new perspective on looking at life….hard as it may be.  Karen

    • http://twitter.com/likewvbutlovesc debra fouse

      I agree Karen, I am 50 and we all struggle in this life. My struggles are worse now than a year ago, I just keep the faith, trust God and never give up. The same thing my Mom taught me and I’m sure her Mom taught her. I am likewvbutlovesc on twitter wasn’t logged in but am now

  • Sofie Karlstrom

    Great post! It made me think of the serenity prayer:

    God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change,The courage to change the things I can,And the wisdom to know the difference.

    Love, Sofie.

  • http://twitter.com/likewvbutlovesc debra fouse

    very good comment, his article does make me think of the Serenity Prayer also! I just keep on believing things in this hard life will get better, pray a lot and trust God to help me make it better.

  • Sofie Karlstrom

    Thank you Debra! I really did appreciate the lines of “life is difficult. And when we accept that life is difficult, it ceases to be difficult.” Great writing! Love, Sofie.

  • Aoifa O’Donnell

    Thank you for this reminder. Peck’s sentence  “life is difficult” – the 3rd time this has come up in a week for me.  It is a message that I clearly need to remember and accept once again so that I can get back to peace and relax, versus fear and control, or the illusion of control.  I am amazed at how I recently moved away from my spirit state into my fear state without fully recognizing it and became entrenched in it for weeks until my partner woke me up to it.  I bedgrudingly watched 3 episodes of supersoulsunday last night, one which featured you and already feel clearer again.   I am heading out for a walk now to find silence, god and nature.  I am glad I found the daily love. 
    With gratitude,
    Aoifa    

  • Vavaxn

    Ah. Thanks to all. The post is great. It’s coming at a time of difficulty for me. And Sophie, I forgot about that prayer…the Serenity prayer.

    Slowly trying to get to the point where I can embrace the fact that…it will cease to be difficult, when I accept that it is…hmm.

    Once again, thank you all. I hope I find the strength.

  • Barbara

    Another superb piece from Mastin. What an inspired deliverer of the words we need to embody. Thank you.

  • Dr. Jen @braincurves

    Synchronicity! I JUST bought Peck’s “The Road Less Traveled” this Sunday at one of the few independent book stores left on the Upper West Side. I found it outside, used and underlined, and highlighted and clearly put to great use. Gratitude for that little moment that made my heart sing and gratitude for THIS moment when Mastin quoted the book 2 days later :-).

  • http://twitter.com/theloveofkale Heather Waxman

    This is beautiful, Mastin. And came at the perfect time. You’re a blessing! <3

    My mother is an alcoholic and is also in denial of her need to get sober. She is at the point right now where she is so angry and irrational and it isn't serving me or her to be in each other's space. She still wants a relationship with me so badly.

    I asked her to respect my need for space until she is ready to truly face sobriety headon. She  has not respected my need for space and is calling me non-stop and leaving a string of voicemails (up to 10 per day every few days). This has been SUCH a challenge for me. Whenever I receive a call from her,  my first reactions are anxiety and anger.

    I need to recognize that is my ego and shine the light on it. One day at a time. Thank you for that reminder. Sending you so much love!

  • http://www.facebook.com/penni.shelton Penni Shelton

    As I sat and watched/listened to Super Soul Sunday this week, I was sitting by my father’s bedside as he is in the very final stages of acute leukemia. As he was struggling to breathe, I was there, holding space for him, yet determined to tune in to get my powered up dose of The Daily Love on OWN. tears streamed down my face throughout the hour and I felt the very real presence of God in and around my father and I. 

    As I sit here, even now, looking my dad and the angel of death straight in the face, I am grateful. Grateful that my heart has been busted wide open and the life of all eternity floods my countenance from the Divine. 

    Life is hard, but it’s a blessing even when we feel its sting. I am alive now and once my dear dad goes on to his next assignment, I know I will have a marvelous new guardian angel journeying with me as I shine my light even brighter in this world.

    I love you, Mastin, and genuinely appreciate you showing up, stepping up and being the change. 

    Penni Shelton

    • Gibbyalex

      Penni….BIG HUG to you and your Dad!

    • Tadams74501

      Beautiful

    • Karla

      An amazing moment of gratitude. Life is hard and your story teaches me to find a way to make my heart smile with being grateful. Thank you and lots of love and light to you and your dad. Thank you Mastin for your Daily Love.

  • Tinawrn

    i have just started a new journey in my life at fifty three life is very difficult and i know am learning that is better not to judge. dont take things so personally use our energy on giving and love trying to make it a little less difficult for someone else and let let that come back to you  Matsin thank you so much for being the vessel that God wants you to be.  you and your friends and a few others have changed my life.  Thank again

  • Abbey

    I needed this so much. Especially with the holiday approaching. Thank you! Thank you! Also, I saw you on Super Soul Sunday and was incredibly moved by your story of how you came to be where you are now. It was a struggle, but look where it’s gotten you. I am very inspired. 

  • Linda Dowell

    Thank you, it was – perfectly – what I needed to be reminded of, and I am grateful for you.  Have a good Holiday, Mastin!

  • Jennifer

    All I want to say is YOU have helped me DAILY, I can’t begin to tell you how much your Daily Love means to me. Everyday it seems to be the perfect timing. THANK YOU for ALL that you do. My daughter is 21 and I share with her many things you say. She will understand the world at a much younger age than I did and I thank you for that also.
    Keep up the great work and know that YOU MAKE A DIFFERENCE in peoples lives daily and THAT is AMAZING ! !

  • http://www.are-you-there-kathleen-its-me-god.blogspot.com/ Kathleen Reynolds Chelquist

    Right on schedule. Just yesterday, I wrote on FB about being grateful for the ones who have lifted me up and those who have not. For they have been my biggest teachers. Like you, I have been on a “Love Mission” for a few years now. As I started to blog, write quotes, and change…my FB, “LIKES” started to become fewer and fewer. It came as quite a shock. Some friends, parents, and my husbands parents did not like my changes as well. IT HAS BEEN the hardest thing I have ever done. I felt sorry for myself. My common thought of the day was, “Don’t they understand that I HAVE HAD TO CHANGE my reactions and programming to literally save my life? How can they reject, LOVE?” I now know why…Their fear was bumping into my fear. The more I let go, the easier it is getting. I am attracting wonderful, like-minded friends and family-like bonds. I am now giving to the others’ in service rather than ‘NEEDING’ their approval and “LIKES.”  I am so grateful. The Daily Commenter, Kathleen are-you-there-kathleen-its-me-god.blogspot.com/ 

  • Jeanie

    Thank you Mastin!! I needed to read this today. You helped to pull me out of a very frightening and dark time in my life. 

  • Jen

    Why IS it so diffuclt, at the moment(s) of adversity, to think this way?? How come we all too often get swallowd up in the low points? And what advice can anyone give to help me see that bad things dont always mean “bad” life??  I need help..

  • Ljackson6045

    Mastin,, I’m new to this blog but wow I really needed to hear what you had to say. After suffering a huge loss a couple of weeks ago I have indeed been feeling victimized and sadness and grief seems to have overtaken my life. Loss is difficult and so very sad, but I must realize and understand that she wouldn’t want me to live in sadness and grief. Thanks for your words and I look forward to being a part of TDL.  Linda

  • Nancy

    I am grateful for the difficult parts of life. It is during these times when I have become my better self. However, even with that said I believe that I still hold on to an old notion subconsciously that life should be easier then it is because it has been hard for so many years. Mastin you have certainly brought to my attention some areas for me to tapp into. Thank you.

    • Karen Best

      I love this Nancy.  That your difficult times have made you stronger and your better self.  I will remember this….thank you.

  • SocorroC

     I’ve been watching Super Soul Sunday since its inception.  I thank God for this amazing platform for spiritual teachers like you who continue to teach me so much!  My husband and I watched last Sunday, and as usual, the show was perfect.  What resonated with me was your experience of God speaking to your 8×8 measure in faith!  
         In those tough times, my new marriage at this moment,  my faith in God is what gets me through.  But oftentimes I sit in the seat of the scornful for a night or so before allowing God to open my heart …..which then leads me to an amazing blog like yours, or gives me the strength to meditate or to read scripture or whatever God knows I need at that time.  You’re right, I need to remember that I will falter and fail at times but I must  see it as an opportunity.  I like what you said, “I had learned just enough about spirituality to recognize that something ‘good’ was about to happen!”
         Thank you for contribution in healing the world!

  • Derek Starry

    Thank you so much for sharing this, and i couldnt agree more! i strive everyday at the young age of 17 to live through this and strive to put it in my music everyday. This website is the biggest internet gift we have been given yet, God bless everyone here

  • msboatbabe

    The best lessons I learned I had to learn the hard way.  That’s why I will never forget them and hopefully never repeat them.

  • Jabin

    I
    am grateful for the hardship we faced during Katrina, I am grateful for
    all the turmoils I had in my relationship when my husband and I were separated, I am grateful for all the
    challenging times we faced & the troubles we got ourselves into- because those are the experiences that
    curved me into who I am today. Today I am even more grateful, humble and
    happy with what I have. Just need to remember that more tough time will
    be coming our way, and even then stay as grateful as I am today for the
    life I have been gifted.
     Thank you for this reminder :)

  • Grateful

    I’m new to The Daily Love, but each day the quotes and themes seem to speak directly to my current experience.  I am at the very beginning of a divorce – as difficult a time as I’ve ever been through.  Thank you Mastin for this great gift.  There is no better way to start the day than by reading one of your emails.  

  • http://www.selfesteem-building.com/ Michelle Sears

     

    I’m grateful for the man in my life who is inevitability
    difficult. I’m grateful for him because he is the father of my two healthy,
    happy children and because I know that God put him in my life for us to heal
    each other.

     

    I’ve know my husband my entire life so I know what his
    childhood was like and he knows mine. Difficult, yes. But we’ve been put in each others life to love each other just the way we are and to help each other heal
    from the inside out. I know that. But does he?

    Do I wish he was more awakened to the way life really is? Yes, but I know that
    I can’t help him with this unless I can show him what an awakened life looks
    like. Not just tell him.

    So this is my biggest difficulty that I am grateful for – holding myself
    accountable for being the change I want to see in this world.

  • Donnatizzano

    I watched my first Super Soul Sunday this week through Kris Carr’s facebook page.  Kris has been an inspiration and catalyst for me and Marstin, You walked into my life just at the right time…divine I would say…I didn’t think a cancer diagnosis would have a trump card for me…but yes, Life is hard and I am thankful for each and every moment.  In being thankful present and forgiving…my heart has opened and the world seems technicolor…just what everyone said on sunday..
    .xoxoxo blessings and hugs Donnamarie

  • Melli

    We have all been the prostitute, the witch, martyr, enabler, the poor me, the bi polar victim, gypsy,seducer, the lover ….

    and if none of these apply to you. Can we ever really be true friends? 

    Can we ever truly love ourselves most importantly ? 

    Your good friends, look at them face to face… All that you see is, you. 

    I recently had an issue with acceptance of where I am in this world. I looked to someone I love very much. I started to judge, ” so stubborn, so much pride, you are your own worse enemy.” in that moment I realized it wasnt the person anymore. It was me. 

    Epiphany.. I didn’t want to see it, now that I do see it. I can accept it. Heal hopefully and love myself unconditionally, so I can accept every human being possible.

    Stubbornness has been engrained in me. It will take awhile to practice. Stubbornness was once used a defense mechanism, not by choice but to survive.  

    It’s funny when we find acceptance in those that fall, but we can’t tolerate it in ourselves or vise versa. 

    The world is your mirror

    Look at the ocean? What do you see?
    Vast potential, Gnarly tumultuous peaks, smooth and tranquil underneath. 
    Look at a tree. 
    It dances in the wind, it’s high, it’s wise , the tree sees everything
    The snow 
    Pure, cold, fun , snowball fights, it begs for you to seek warmth, stillness and childlike fun
    Add on… :) 

    Love all different ways, 
    Melissa 

  • Melli

    I love that! The world is your Mirror!

    Thank you Mastin !

  • Tadams74501

    Reminds of things I have heard in alot of my recovery meetings. Acceptance is the key to living life on life’s terms. There are so many things I have no control over. God grant me the serenity to accept the things I can not change and wisdom to.change the things I.can. in early recovery I was in treatment had lost absolutely every thing. Looking at 20 to life in prison and my future looked pretty hopeless. Then someone told me to make a gratitude list of 10 things every day for thirty days. I remembered I had a cat so for thirty days I was grateful for a freaking cat. Fourteen years later I am still doing gratitude list. The life I have today I never could have thought of. So even when I am in a bad space do my list even if I’m not feeling it. I’m not rich I don’t have a big beautiful house but I have no drama(except what goes on in my crazy head) a man who loves me two crazy kids and a job I love and get to give back. I didn’t even realize the effect gratitude had on my life until recently.

  • Pamelabarnes02

    Love this Mastin, yes my life has been difficult and I continue to have some trying times.  I’ve taken action and accepted things that I cannot change.  I am grateful for the things I have right now.  Reading your Daily Love and Oprah’s Life Class and listening to Joel Osteen, has helped me get over alot of things that I have held on to for far too long.  Thanks your blessings.

    Pamela

  • Patti

    This year has been tough. I lost my mother back in February. Moarned the loss of her who was someone who I wished I felt truly loved me. We have a VERY dear friend who is dying of liver cancer (just took him off the transplant list) and he stays at our house 1 x per week so he can receive treatment he can not get at the hospital in his home town.

    Another friend who is only 28 years old and has a brain tumor who is suffering and hoping he will have an opportunity to life a full, long life that he deserves. We are also having to let our kitty George go today. He has bone cancer and is the best fuzzy bunny in the world!

    I have struggled with working for companies that cant keep it afloat and have been laid off more times than I can count. I am working contract right now and am interviewing and hoping to get hired.

    Life is full of sadness, it surrounds us. Sometimes more than others. Life is a constant act of Perseverance and hard work. But even during all this, I still have a GREAT life. I have a wonderful husband who I love more than I can express who brings so much laughter and light to my world and a 10 year old son that is so sweet and kind and loving and giving.

    Because of the things that bring struggles and sadness to our life should make us feel grateful for it and grateful for the wonderful things we HAVE been blessed with. My husband and I talk of this often and it makes us so much more aware how blessed and fortunate we are to have each other and the life we live.

  • http://www.facebook.com/TheHostJai M Jai TheEditor Makokha

    I needed this one today.  I’m creating a fashion publication called The Style Manual (www.readtheinstructionscarefully.com).  Breaking into the fashion industry is a difficult process, some say.  I needed to hear the affirmations in today’s post.  “Life is difficult, but I am stronger,” and, “I accept that life is difficult and now transform it.”

  • ME

    I just wrote down today.  Why do I think everything is so difficult?  Does difficult limit me from living a life I love?   Why do I fear difficult and hard?   Really I wonder do I want to live on the sidelines or keep digging into my awareness that life is really starting to be a game and it’s my choice on what game I want to play!   So maybe I can change my terminology and shift and look at life as a challenge with it’s twists and turns and I am driving the roller coaster called life and a life that is thrilling and full of amazement too!  I always feel utopia when I accomplish something difficult.   What about you? 

    • Jen

      I too feel like everything is more difficult than it really is.. and I believe that “yes” thinking so, does limit our quality of life. I ask myself everyday, why do I fear certain things, But at the same time, when I acomplish those things (no matter how regular or normal they may be) I also, feel very acomplished….. anyways, thanks for your post, I was begining to think there has ben something very wrong with me..

  • Margietarpkins

    i am greatful. for my life.for my husband, and not having food applied for foodstamps and it will be 30 days before I get them.about to lose my car.iam so thankful for it all.until it’s gone it’s still mys I give thanks

  • Ray

    16yrs to graduate college…end of last semester, professor tells me today she lost my midterm paper (still ungraded) which I need for my final paper…

    I didn’t save a backup…only two weeks left and I didn’t even keep the book with my notes because we’ve never had to (4yrs of classes with her)…

    It’s taken all I’ve got to make it this far, and now at the finish line, I don’t have another 5K in me…

    I don’t know how, but I need a miracle…

    • Monica Holtzhauer

      I have a prayer for you. Not sure what it is, it just is. For you.

  • Ray

    Wow…I’m in awe! I asked for a miracle from the Universe and let go, and I got it…I posted earlier about my paper…she found it. I’m speechless. I remember Iyanla Vanzant’s 3 prayers: Help. Help me now! Thank you!

  • Dirish Shaktidas

    I am great full for friends who are in conflict with each other.  Even though they are in conflict I can remain neutral in the situation and not take sides.. respond with facts and not get in the drama of “their” stories.. Its a toughie! *wipes sweat from head* ;) 

  • http://www.facebook.com/bsl123 Baljit Singh

    Thanks for the inspiration Mastin, In fact the first two paragraphs inspired me enough to knock up my own piece about Meeting Life
    http://silkwovenfacade.wordpress.com/2012/11/20/meeting-life/
    How can we meet the events of our lives with our best intentions?

    Decide not to be perfect
    Be mindful of thoughts, feelings and body sensations
    Accept what is without judgement
    Do not hold a negative thought
    Be curious instead of judgemental
    What can I appreciate about the situation?
    What’s right about the situation?
    What’s good about this?
    Appreciate what isn’t working to clarify a difficult situation
    What do I want to have, be or do?
    How can I use this?
    What is the one thing I can do right now?
    Believe in yourself

  • Trulady

    Though I am going through a difficult time in life, I am grateful for the awareness and growth and I experiencing through this journey. I am being stretched spiritually in so many ways. I am so thankful for my life and the constant quest to connect with God intimately. I know this growth isn’t going to be easy, but I am thankful for the present moment of my life.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1085533517 Alexandria Fox

    Thanks I needed that !!!Because I been looking at my situation in the wrong way !

  • snoozing in san francisco

    I often think that the ‘hardest’ moment’s of my life have shaped the very figure that I am today and that these struggles gave me perspective for everything to follow.  I have been angry and empty for long enough to remember exactly what it feels like, pushed back my emotions long enough to barely recognize them, and it’s sure as hell not the way I will choose to live the rest of my life.  I have also learned that the worst thing to do is judge things to be other than they are; it’s all just matters of life and seeds for growth.  Who would I be had I not experienced my experiences?  Someone else entirely probably.  This is when it’s truly important to remember self love.  It’s true that you have to love yourself before you can open yourself to others and actually have something to give.   I am also an over-thinker and, when directed negatively, I guide my own nightmares; yet when channelled positively this can be quite a gift.  It’s important to know yourself and the distinctions that allow you to live free of guilt and full of love. I am thankful for the struggles, for the joy, for the thick skin, for everything that I have learned and will continue to learn. 

  • mindfulproject

    Acceptance equals freedom. Freedom from judgement. Freedom from believing their is a separate reality than what exists. No-thing is outside of acceptance and until we rest in acceptance, life will be hard. Thank you for the wonderful blog post! Isn’t it great we have a national holiday to be grateful. So awesome! Renee

  • Faith is not by sight alone

    Can you be grateful even for the difficult parts of life?  You most certainly can.  Life is full of lesson & we are here to learn.  We were bless by our daughter who is quadriplegic, non vocal, seizure disorder, gastro tube feed & the list goes on.  We love her dearly and would not trade our life with anyone.  Don’t get me wrong, life has been very difficult for her & us.  It has taken many years to see through the clouds & feel the sunshine.  We enjoy the simple things in life.  We have come to realize with the help from many (not the long gone friends or family members who have abandon us) but help from Ophray’s spirtual team, that our daughter is on a higher level then us.  Searching for many years for my bliss & it was right under my nose, my daughter.  We have learnt so much about the human race , happiness & love.  So please take time to ask someone who is on the same life journey as our family, “is there something I can do for you?”  Those few words will mean the world the them, to see someone does care. 

  • SarahNoel500

    I have always believed EVERYTHING happens for a reason and in our best interest…somehow.  This helps me accept tough and trying times b/c I know, trust, and believe, it’s something I needed to go through and experience, for some reason. 

  • Roadbiker45

    Your post really helped to remind me about speaking to my heart.  I just lost both my mom and my brother in the course of a twenty-four hour period.  I was ready for my mom’s passing and helped her transition from this life.  I was so honored to do this, and knew it was a task that I had been preparing to take on for some time.  I was not prepared for my brother to leave us.  He was only 57.  We had a wonderful life celebration for him, and through all of this, I am still so grateful for understanding that death is simply a transition from this life to another job.  I pray that my mom and brother are on to their next project together, and continuing to make a difference, the way that they did in this life. 
    Thank you for your wonderful post.  I always receive your messages at just the right time.
    Love,
    Liz

  • Paris

    Today I found myself thinking about how we respond to receiving blessings we don’t even have room to receive. As someone who less than a month ago was fighting the fear of potentially being jobless, and who now is having to manage tons of interviews and figure out which jobs are most important, which I should bother taking off work to fly out to interview for, etc. (crazy to even write!), I had to catch myself. I was complaining about an overabundance of blessings — that I truly am struggling to find the room for at the moment. And I realized that this “difficulty” was really a moment for immense gratitude.