I shared recently on IG how I’ve been hearing about so much loss and suffering lately. Friends who have lost family members, complete strangers who’ve lost a loved one, humans and animals suffering at the hands of others, or from neglect. It makes me angry. And it also makes me feel like curling up in a ball and sobbing. At times I find reprieve in detachment- something my mind does every now and then for self-protection. But, even when that happens, I know it doesn’t mean the thing that’s happened is any less sad or awful or real, it just means I don’t have the capacity to feel it all right now. That I’ll feel it more tomorrow, or some other time. And I know they say you should have emotional boundaries with these things, that getting sucked into all the sadness of the world just overwhelms us, paralyzing us from ever attempting to create positive change. Why would we even try if it felt as though the odds weren’t even close to in our favor? If nothing we did would truly make a difference? And that’s why we must learn to live in grief and in gratitude.
The thing is, yes, there are so many terrible, awful things that happen everyday. I’m tearing up a bit as I type this, thinking of all the emails I get asking for donations or petition signatures for beings that are out there suffering right in this very moment. Beings that I’ll never meet, but who I want to save from whatever conditions they’re in. Give them a big hug and let them know they are loved. And though I may not ever be able to save or change things for every single being in the stories I hear, I know that the small actions I take in their honor can still make a difference. That I don’t have to let the grief consume me.
That’s where gratitude comes in. Where grief can chain you up, gratitude can set you free. And that’s not to say grief should never be felt, but if that’s all we ever felt we’d never have the fortitude to get back up, to trust in the world, and live our lives with hope- to dream. Of a better future, an accumulation of all of the actions we took from a place of faith, not fear. Gratitude gives us the energy to move forward, even through the pain we feel, because when we seek gratitude, we find joy in even the smallest of things. It encourages us to look for the good, and when you look for the good, you’ll find it.
And if you know there is good, then you know that the pain you feel is not all there is. All the suffering and loss and terrible awful things that happen here on earth are not what make up our entire realities. The other part is all the good that happens, too. All the people out there working to make a difference right now, guiding others in how they can do the same, bringing awareness and attention to issues so we can make a difference collectively, and succeeding.
And the beautiful thing is, is that the more positive change we see in the world through this collective impact, the more we believe in the good. The more we believe that there’s so much more of it than the bad. There’s a lot in this life to grieve over, and please, do grieve. But I implore you, and myself, to not stop there. Let it fuel you and drive you to your passion- to make good come of it. To give it meaning. Pain is not all for nothing, unless we let it be.
Find the thing that makes you angry or sad (or both) and follow that fire- it’s one of the many reasons you’re here. Make small changes individually- learn more, spread the message, protest, donate, sign petitions, whatever you can to support the cause that calls to you. And though it will mean that you must pay more attention to the things that bring you grief, it will also open you up to all the gratitude you’ll feel, being surrounded by people who also believe in the good, and all the good you’ll create together. And that is how we live… in grief, and in gratitude.
What causes do you feel called to? What are things you’ve implemented in your life to support the change you’re seeking? Would love to hear your experience with this <3
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Black romper is from Project Social T.