They say, “What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger”. But how so? Have we mistaken our anger as power and tears as forgiveness? Truth be told, strength is found in the silver lining of pain and life is meant to be filled with irrelevant noise that consumes us with frustration. To see the silver lining is to have gratitude for the circumstances no matter how torturous and hideous it gets. This is what makes gratitude strength.

But sometimes it’s incredibly difficult to be grateful. We lose some of the most important people in our lives just days apart and hear of despicable crimes from the media. At times like these, gratitude sometimes feels like accepting defeat or settling for the undeserving outcomes of our good deeds. And you are not wrong to have felt this.

True gratitude, however, is not just an emotion but an attitude. It is an attitude we have towards moving forward in life with the strength to say: “Thank you, but I’m moving on from this”. There is no doubt that gratitude exists as it is a consistent virtue across major monotheistic traditions. The only difference is the method to which gratitude is practiced. And why would there be a single way to practice gratitude? After all, we all lead different lives and build strength under different circumstances.

When we think of gratitude we inevitably think of practicing it during the tougher of times–when we need strength to overcome something. We tend to forget that gratitude is also for the satisfying present. Those of us that have been fed, housed and loved as children, we will be forever grateful to our parents but struggle with the thought of trying to give back to them.

But perhaps we’re over thinking gratitude at this point. In the end, we’ll never truly be able to pay back the people who have supported us and lifted us to better places in our lives. As our older and hopefully wiser selves, we might find relief in seeing the grand scope of human generosity and love for what it is. Gratitude can be as simple as a, “Thank you” or small act of appreciation.

As we move forward with life, make sure to not only count your blessings but make them count. Being human we are constantly on the lookout for happiness. Over the centuries, there has been countless books written about various journeys to achieving happiness and how it can be obtained for ourselves–all of them so close but yet so far from the truth. They are close to the truth because happiness is something that can be obtained and far because these happiness pursuits are defined as single missions for each individual person.

Our lives cannot be rich without gratitude because we’re all receiving more than the world has given us. When was the last time you saw a grateful person sad?

There is always a choice. It is often easier said than done, but life is truly what you make of it. It is never so much about what is actually happening in our lives but more so how we respond to them. Being happy has never been a job to outsource. By reacting in a different way we allow ourselves to experience the satisfaction and happiness we so desperately seek out from everything other than ourselves.

All this makes you wonder, what if we took our everyday as if it were Thanksgiving without the turkey and pie?

We’d be able to focus on our blessings every day instead of what appears to be lacking. We wouldn’t be thinking about how different circumstances would have created a better and happier version of ourselves because nothing would be better than the present. Finding strength in gratitude isn’t looking at life with rose coloured glasses but we don’t have to love everything to be grateful. Every single moment that exists in our lives is there to build a better foundation for our futures.

Commit yourself to feeling empowered my gratitude every day. Choose in every moment to find the silver lining that builds your strength. If you don’t think that every moment is a blessing, consider them as lessons you wouldn’t be able to learn without living through. How simple would life be if you went through it moaning and complaining? Keep a gratitude journal and exercise gratitude like you would otherwise do for your physical health–but this keeps your mental health up to par as well.

“In the bad times, choose to grow stronger. In the good times, choose to enjoy fully. In all times, choose to be grateful.”