07/22/2014 12:23 pm ET Updated Sep 21, 2014

The Quickest Way Out of the Dumps

Sometimes we find ourselves down in the dumps, stuck in a dark place. Perhaps we do some journaling and it helps somewhat, yet we feel something is missing. We pray and feel a little better but we can't seem to find our joy, that wonderful state of Grace where we are filled with light and peace.

During one of these times I asked my best friend, Erika, what she does to move herself into her joy. Erika is often joyful, one of the most joyful people I've ever known, even with all of her many challenges with fluctuating health.

"Gratitude," she answered. "I find the many things I can be thankful for -- my friends, my home, my wonderful dogs, cats and horses, a great meal, a funny joke, my warm bed, my piano, the birds and rabbits that enjoy my yard. As soon as I move into gratitude, my heart lightens."

As usual, Erika proves to be right. I have discovered that choosing gratitude instantly opens my heart and fills me with peace and joy. There are so many big and little things to be grateful for, yet so many of us fill our time thinking about what we don't have, what is not going right. "If only I had this or that, than I would be happy. If only I were richer or thinner. If only I had a different job. If only I could find my soul-mate." "If only I had a child," and on and on.

How often do you thank God for the sacred privilege of life on this planet -- the sacred privilege of having the opportunity to evolve your soul in your ability to love? How often do you thank God for your body, the house of your soul? How often do you thank God for the many opportunities that come your way to challenge you in your soul's journey on this planet?

Life here is a great gift. In the spiritual realm, we do not come up against darkness -- the darkness that challenges us to discover our own light. Only by coming up against our own and other's wounds can we discover how to heal them. Only by facing our fears can we discover love. God has given us this gift of life on the planet so we can recreate ourselves each moment as we evolve in our journey toward oneness with God-Which-Is-Love.

Often the very things that we feel victimized by are the opportunities that Spirit has presented to us to support us in our soul's growth. If we looked at all challenges in our life as opportunities to evolve our soul rather than as bad things happening to us, we would likely respond completely differently to them. If we moved into gratitude, and to surrender to the journey, rather than into anger and fear, we would have a totally different experience of our life.

The only way you will know that this is true is to try it. Next time something bad happens, see if you can find the lesson in it and move into gratitude for the lesson. Next time you are down in the dumps and nothing seems to work to get you out of it, think of all the things there are to be grateful for. The more you practice this, the more it becomes natural until one day you find yourself thanking God all day for the great and tiny wonderful things that happen in a day.

Your thoughts create many of your feelings, and when your thoughts are of gratitude instead of fear and lack, you may feel the peace and joy you seek. As your thoughts of gratitude radiate out into the world, your peaceful, loving energy will have a positive effect on others. We all love being around people who radiate a loving and peaceful energy. You will be doing your part in creating peace in the world by creating it within yourself. You will be fulfilling the words of the peace song, "Let there be peace on earth, and let it begin with me."

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