You may know this or you may not, but the central cause of suffering in our lives is the idea that something is happening that should not be happening. Both struggle and suffering are creations of the mind, which is, of course, where your reality is created. What your mind thinks about something is crucial in determining how you experience it. If you determine that this thing is unwanted, wrong or bad, you suffer.

But there’s this basic truth that we tend to forget:  Life is incapable of producing an event or condition that does not carry you to the next place in your evolution or that is not designed for your next expression of Divinity. Everything that has happened, is happening, or will happen in your life, is designed to help you evolve.

You see, the path of the soul does not require or include suffering or struggle. If you’ve been struggling, it is because you have not been following the path of your soul. You’ve taken a detour along a trail that led you away from the path, forgetting to remember who you really are, and where you were intending to go.

And underneath this truth lies a deeper one: Nothing that happens is “bad” for you. If it were bad for you, it wouldn’t be happening.

I know this is a difficult concept to grasp. There are a lot of painful things, devastating things that happen in life. And here I am telling you, they’re happening for your own good?

Well, yes. You see, when you realize and know that the reason you are here is to be an expression of Divinity, you can be sure that everything is placed before you to serve this Divine purpose—in other words, to serve your purpose because your purpose is the Divine purpose.

Let’s go a bit deeper.

Within an astonishingly short period of time following your birth, you came into contact with, analyzed, assembled and stored a monumental amount of data about the world. You did this so efficiently that after only a few years on this planet, it became essentially impossible for you to encounter any new experiences.

Now, you will continue, throughout your life, to experience new events, which are circumstances that happen outside of you. But you will not have new experiences, which are the ideas you hold, the decisions you make, and your emotional reactions to these events. And this is by design. You’re not supposed to encounter new experiences. You are supposed to encounter the same experiences over and over again.

Why? Because each event, occurrence, relationship, challenge, is an opportunity to respond not from the past, not from a previously chosen idea or emotion, but in a new way, a way that’s aligned with the grandest vision you hold about who you are and why you’re here.

Life presents us chance upon chance to change our way of reacting, change our old stories, to evolve into the highest version of ourselves that we can be. And this happens throughout our entire life.

So now the question becomes, if suffering occurs in our mind, how do we change it (our mind and thus the suffering)? How do we change deep, long-held ideas and reactions to the experiences in our lives, to choose instead from the path of the soul?

Through gratitude.

It’s a word we hear a lot, but I don’t know how much most of us actually experience it. You see, I’m not talking about simple gratitude. I’m talking about a level of gratitude that runs at the deepest level of one’s being; the gratitude that does, in fact, cause one to feel blissful in the experiencing of it.

The way for suffering to end and for struggle to be over, is to stay on the path. Gratitude returns you to the path. It speeds you in your evolution.

The first time I really felt this, the first time I connected to my soul and truly understood why things happen and just how perfect they were, I dropped to my knees with tears streaming down my face. It was the most exquisite experience. And I asked my soul, “How can I have more of this, how can I live in this state of pure appreciation for everything in my life?”

And my soul said to me: “You can summon it spontaneously, for no reason at all, simply as an act of will. You have to understand that gratitude is a decision and a creation, not a reaction.”

From that moment on, I began to summon the experience of gratitude, whether I felt it or not, in the first blush of any particularly challenging moment. I didn’t know if what my soul was telling me, if what I was coming to understand was really true, so I overlaid the feeling of gratitude, the experience of gratitude, on every thought, reaction and response to every situation, circumstance and event in my life. And you know what? It was like magic. Not only did it heal many moments that I would have previously thought of as “not okay,” but it brought into my life many new moments that were very okay, because the energy shift that the attitude change produced created future outcomes more in alignment with who I was choosing to be.

It’s interesting that gratitude may be one of the most powerful tools your mind has ever been given, but ironically enough, it’s one of the most underutilized. I think this is because most people are not aware of the immense power of gratitude to reverse a thought that is at the foundation of all suffering. Gratitude unleashes an energy that turns suffering on its head.

Gratitude opens the mind. It expands your normal, limited thinking to include a counterintuitive truth: even when something seems “bad” for you, it can actually be good for you.

It’s gratitude that gives you the power to do this, because gratitude gives you a fresh start. It’s like being born again and having the mind reset to zero. It wipes the slate clean of all prior negative judgments that you may have had, that you may even still now be holding about any person, event, circumstance or situation that has ever arisen in your life.

Whether your mind is caught up in memories of the past or you are deeply engaged in a challenging present moment and wish to change your mind this instant about it, you will in each case encounter gratitude.

When you make a commitment to use this tool, you will see how the energy you are carrying about any unwelcome event, past or present, can be transformed in the blink of an eye.

Simply say, “Thank you, thank you, God,” the moment that anything that you might perceive as “negative” occurs or presents itself in your memory. And declare what you are thanking God for.

“Thank you, God, for giving me this chance…”

to heal my thought that  ____ (whatever the thought might be)

to change my old story about ____ (whatever the story might be)

to release my tears and my fears around ____  (whatever the fear might be)

Daily Practice

Upon rising each morning, before you do anything else, say this prayer and watch as any struggle or suffering you’re experiencing begins to transform.

“Thank you, God, for another day and another chance to be my highest self.”

Such an announcement does more than merely put you in a good frame of mind. If you believe that what you thought about life has at least some effect on how life plays itself out, you must surely see that beginning each day with such a remarkable statement of faith in the process of life itself becomes formative in the process of life itself. You are declaring what you choose to co-create.

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