Gratitude is Not Escapist

From, “Interview About “Gratitude in Life’s Trenches”:

Even in saying that we can have gratitude for our suffering, there is a potential for this to be taken in various wrong directions. One mistake would be to veer into a Pollyanna-type optimism that fails to engage in the reality of pain. Gratitude is not about gritting your teeth and saying things are fine when they are not. Rather, true gratitude involves acknowledging our sufferings, accepting them, and then interpreting pain in a spiritual way…. When we use gratitude to reframe our sufferings, we are not denying that suffering is taking place, nor are we painting an escapist gloss over our difficulties. Rather, we are choosing to perceive the larger context in which the suffering occurs: a context that provides occasions for gratitude regardless of what is happening around us. Because of this, gratitude enables us to confront our own pain and vulnerability, to be realistic rather than escapist. Gratitude gives us the power to look pain straight in the eye and to be at peace instead of despairing. Vulnerability is very important in this process, because it’s very hard to selectively numb emotion: if you harden yourself so you don’t have to face your own vulnerability, then you will likely also be numbing away your capacity to feel gratitude, joy, and love.

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