When I was in the depth of my depression, two summers ago, gratitude was far from my thoughts. I was so caught up in the drama in my life, I couldn't see that there would ever be a way out. I felt that no matter which direction I went, I would never be happy. I would always be full of regrets, and I would never like myself. These thoughts plagued me, and I ultimately found myself dreading the rest of my life.
Only when it got so dark did I finally search for the light. I knew there had to be a better way to live. An internet search on "how to stay in the present moment" turned up a couple articles, which led to a couple books, and I began to learn about the power of my thoughts, my focus, and my beliefs, especially about myself. I realized that negative beliefs about myself were taking a huge toll on my quality of life.
It's been a year and a half since that day; the day I call my spiritual awakening. I never thought I would say this, but I'm now grateful for those dark days. If I hadn't gotten so low, I would never have reached out for help. I would never have been willing to seek a different way.
My friend's 9-year old daughter recently showed me a handout from her school that teaches kids the difference between a Growth Mindset vs. a Fixed Mindset. The Growth Mindset sees learning and growth as a priority, and therefore sees challenge as something to embrace. The Fixed Mindset avoids challenges and gives up when things get hard. This has to be one of the coolest schools ever for teaching this to the kids, but it also serves as a great reminder for adults!
Through a lot of self study, persistence, and tapping into tools like the growth and fixed mindset, I now see myself as a person of value and goodness. I know I'm worthy of my dreams. I know I have great purpose. Through any challenge, big or small, I can be grateful, because these challenges allow me to expand and grow.
As I sit here writing this, I just moved to a new city, in a new state, and I'm worried about money. I'm looking for a job and trying to change directions in my career. I'm getting divorced. I'm learning things about myself that I haven't been willing to look at before. It can get ugly! I'm stumbling. I’m stress eating. I’m feeling insecure. But in all of this, I'm also remembering how those darkest days were what made me turn my face to the light. That period of my life was the catalyst for so much positive change. Just like back then, the challenges I face now are the forerunners for becoming prouder of, and more in love with, myself.
Through this spiritual growth I am moving closer to my true self, tapping the unconditional love at the core of who I am. This love helps me make decisions, helps guide me to the right relationships, shows me my purpose, and makes me feel fulfilled. This is the gift in the garbage. These challenges (what often feels like garbage) are so important, because they help us grow.
May gratitude light up our lives even during the darkest of days, knowing that we are here on a journey to get to know and love ourselves more intimately. May we be grateful for, and through, the challenges that serve to open our hearts to the endless love inside us. And, may we know that we are valuable and worthy of the growth and love we seek.
So be it and so it is! All the love.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: KATY KOEHLER
Katy is on a mission to help people open their hearts to self-love and self-forgiveness. She shares insights, poetry, and messages of healing and empowerment through her blog, lovekatelandia.com. She teaches yoga and fitness, and is studying to become a therapist. She lives in Bend, Oregon.