Giving thanks amid sorrow or fear

Worried about the future? Having trouble processing loss? Giving thanks may seem impossible in the “dark night of the soul.” Here’s some help.

It’s easy to feel grateful when things are going the way we want—that is, if we don’t fall into the trap of taking those things for granted.

But oh, it’s so hard to feel grateful when we’re mad, mourning or afraid.

Ironically, gratitude may be what saves us from anger, sadness and fear—valid and useful emotions, but dangerous to both body and soul if we don’t handle them well.

That’s where mindfulness comes in. Mindfulness and gratitude are beautifully symbiotic. Each feeds the other: mindfulness with the quiet of mind to notice and ponder our blessings, and gratitude with the exquisite awareness that supports a mindful life.

Here is a mindfulness exercise to help you reconnect with gratitude, for your own strength and wellbeing and for the sake of your relationships.

And here is a link to a more in-depth article, followed by related readings, from

Finally, are some quotes on this topic from different religious traditions:

Christianity. Blessed are they that mourn, for they shall be comforted.” –Jesus, in the Beatitudes, Matthew 5:1-12

Judaism. Had I not fallen, I would not have arisen. Had I not been subject to darkness, I would not have seen the light.” –Midrash

Islam. “My Lord, enable me to be grateful for your favor which you have bestowed upon me…and admit me by Your mercy into (the ranks of) Your righteous servants.” –Prayer of Solomon, Quran 27:19

Buddhism: “If we cannot be happy in spite of our difficulties, what good is our spiritual practice?” –Maha Ghosananda

And from a secular perspective: Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life…It can turn a meal into a feast, a house into a home, a stranger into a friend.” –Melody Beattie

Have you ever had trouble feeling grateful? What have you done to try to restore gratitude?

I wish you all good health, good conversation, renewed purpose and hearts full of peace and gratitude on this coming Thanksgiving, and all other days. And as ever, I’d like to hear from you.