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It is late September and we’ve just witnessed a string of awful events: hurricanes, earthquakes, floods, not to mention national unrest and global unease.
It’s difficult sometimes to keep abreast of the news and not become overwhelmed by it. It can be easy to forget to express gratitude.
With any catastrophe, I take comfort in re-reading the wisdom from Fred Rogers (aka Mr. Rogers) that inevitably gets shared on social media:
“When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, “Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.” To this day, especially in times of “disaster,” I remember my mother’s words and I am always comforted by realizing that there are still so many helpers – so many caring people in this world.”
If all we do is watch the news and cut a check, we are still wrapped in gloom. And we are not able to think clearly and to most effectively help one another when battling the fog of negativity. Our brains can’t multitask (read The One Thing to learn more about this).
So what can we do?
Let’s focus on the helpers. And let’s focus on gratitude, wherever we can find it.
Have you seen the video of Aric Harding? A few days after Hurricane Harvey, Harding returned to his flooded home south of Houston to grab some stuffed animals and games to comfort his seven children.
Then he spotted the family’s piano. One of Harding’s sons was afraid the piano would be destroyed, and upon discovering it hadn’t been completely immersed, Harding sat down and started to play. The video Harding posted to Instagram is simultaneously haunting and uplifting.
I was mesmerized. This was gratitude in action.
We talk about it, we may even work it into our daily affirmations, but how often do we see gratitude in action?
I don’t know anything about Aric Harding personally. But I was brought to tears while watching that video of him sitting at his piano, water lapping at his knees while he plays.
Would I have done the same?
I don’t know.
Beauty in the Suffering
Days earlier, Harding’s spirits were high as he joked on Instagram about his family of nine plus a dog being given shelter by a neighbor on high ground and who their next “victim” might be should that neighbor tire of it.
When he waded back through the water to his house, Harding, a pastor, was more subdued and reflective. Along with the video, part of what he wrote on Instagram included:
I think it’s all finally sinking in a little. What we used to have going as a city is gone. I really think God is going to do something completely new here. I am excited to see the new beauty in the suffering.
I’m not a churchgoer, I’m certainly not religious and I’m really not even spiritual, but even someone like me can find meaning in those words.
A New Normal
This isn’t just about Hurricane Harvey and the flooding.
Think to a time when you felt that what you had going was gone. Inevitably, something completely new did arise. The question is, did you find the beauty in the suffering?
I went through a divorce this past year, which is, quite bluntly, a sucky process. For many people (probably most), the process includes some level of loss — of feeling like whatever you had going is gone. And then you peer into the blank space that is the future and wonder what’s to come. Your plans, your goals, everything you thought you knew, it all needs to be rearranged or even rewritten.
One day I may write about an amazing conversation I had with someone immediately after my lowest and most difficult point in the process. A lot of people would call it a moment of grace — late one night out of nowhere, someone who I look up to had reached out to me, without knowing what I was going through, and we talked (online) until the wee hours. There was some business talk, some personal talk, some pushing and some comforting.
You will just have a new normal soon, she said at one point. And it can be whatever you want it to be.
Beauty out of the suffering. I felt myself start to breathe again. The timing of that reaching-out still gives me chills, almost a year later.
Since then, I’ve learned a lot more about gratitude and how to use it. I’ve learned about the Law of Attraction and how it’s played out in my life. What I’ve thought and done to get me to where I am, for good or for bad.
We know we need to be thankful. But rather than regurgitating words mindlessly, do you actually take the time to FEEL the gratitude as well?
That’s the power of Aric Harding’s video. You can feel it.
So I ask: Can you play the piano while floodwaters lap at your knees?
Please share any tips you have for expressing gratitude, or other stories of inspiration in the comments below!
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