Walking the Path of Thankfulness

It was during one very painful period of my life that I made the firm choice to walk the path of gratitude. At a time when my suffering had reached the depths, when I felt misunderstood and betrayed by some of those I had trusted to stand by me, I made the seemingly irrational choice to be thankful. In my pain, I had chosen to focus on the awareness of what was good in my life in the present.

Gratitude is an agreement we make with the Unknown. I chose to express my gratitude to the Source of Life. You could say it was an act of faith, but I don’t think I deserve any credit for it.

“Gratitude is an agreement we make with the Unknown.”

The only other choice was not to be thankful, to resent the actual conditions of my life and everything that had created those conditions. It was then that I saw that I could be grateful for the pain and what it was telling me. In essence, I was learning to trust something beyond my immediate circumstances, something that restored my sense of peace, strength, and openness to life.

Since the time that I chose to walk the path of thankfulness, I have tried to make gratitude my fundamental attitude, living in the present, grateful to the Unseen Mystery. Is that Mystery real? Or is the resentment, dissatisfaction, or self-conscious suffering I would otherwise experience more real?

“Gratitude merely smiles at dissatisfaction and disappointment.”

I have come to trust that if we are patient with difficulty, the Unseen supports us. To express thankfulness is to attract goodness. Gratitude merely smiles at dissatisfaction and disappointment. In any moment we can choose to focus on the disappointments or losses we have experienced, on any number of details in our lives that might seem less than what we might want them to be. Or we can choose, instead, to be thankful for things great and small in the present. Above all, we can be grateful for our relationship with a Mystery that we may not fully comprehend but seems to be more and more present and real.

To be thankful for both abundance and hard times is wisdom, for thankfulness is the panacea that turns pain into happiness. Let’s celebrate Thanksgiving.

–Shaikh Kabir Helminski
Kabir Helminski is Shaikh of the Mevlevi Order, Co-director of The Threshold Society (Sufism.org).