11/26/2014 10:41 am ET Updated Mar 16, 2015

How to Find Gratitude in the Midst of Challenges

If you live in the United States, you'll probably be celebrating Thanksgiving Day this Thursday.

We have so much to be grateful for, and Thanksgiving is a nice opportunity to pay attention to our blessings, including our friends and family, our health and healthy meals. We live in such abundance! I've found that gratitude is a powerful force. When I can be grateful for what it is present in my life, everything seems to flow easier.

Instead of looking at the half-empty glass, gratitude makes us focus on the half that is full.

We are usually grateful for the great things in our lives, but have you ever thought that you could be grateful for the tough times as well?

We might have been able to be thankful for the lessons learned that came after the hardship.

Once we were on the other side of the pain, and had gotten our lives back together, we were able to acknowledge the lessons that we learned from the tough times.

Through these lessons we grew immensely, became stronger and maybe even more spiritually aware. We were grateful for the lesson -- after the fact.

I came to discover a new way to apply gratitude in my life that has transformed me at a deep level.

Four years ago, I was starting my coaching practice and was giving my heart and soul to every aspect of growing my business. My dream was to be able to help other women in creating their dream lives, and I also wanted to be able to pay my bills while doing so.

I put an extraordinary amount of work into getting my website ready, making my brand message clear, and learning about marketing so I could have traffic and visitors to my website. In other words, all that jazz that every entrepreneur has to go through in the beginning stages of a business.

I was doing this by myself, and I sometimes hit walls along the way. I asked myself how do I get clients? How do I get more readers for my blog?

The months passed and I kept working at it, incessantly. I was building something great, but I wasn't seeing tangible results. "Where are the clients?" I thought.

Finally, I got a phone call from a woman who wanted me to coach her. I was beyond the moon with the good news!

Things had started to finally move! I was full of excitement. My first paying client! Yay!

The weeks passed and the woman never showed up. She kept postponing her first session until she eventually told me that she was no longer interested in doing coaching.

I realized that, oh well.... she may not be my first client after all!

I tried to put my best face on and kept moving forward, working harder, trying to sharpen my marketing skills.

Until one day, after nine hours of computer work I went to take a nap. When I was laying in bed, I felt this overwhelming feeling of frustration coming up into my throat.

I knew nobody was watching and I finally did it: I let go and cried it all out.

I cried out my frustration and the feeling of powerlessness. I cried out my confusion and feelings of uncertainty.

Something magical happened while I was getting it all out.

A new thought spoke in my consciousness. A voice within me said:

"Thank you for giving me a story."

I could see myself from above, lying on my bed, tearing up and sobbing. I felt that this was just one more lesson I had to learn along the way. I truly believed that I was going to build a successful business doing what I love the most -- helping others live their own dreams. I just didn't know when that was going to happen.

I had a sense of understanding that knew that to get there, I have to go through this. It is all part of the process of growing.

Imagine if we knew that Oprah built her empire without a single obstacle along the way! Would we be that interested in what she had accomplished if that was the case? Would we even be inspired by her? Hell No!

We are touched by her because she was told that she would never succeed in television. She was told that her name was too weird to be out there. She came from a very humble upbringing where black women didn't dare to dream as big as she did. She ran into all kinds of obstacles along the way, and because she faced each obstacle, one by one, with an open heart, she became who she is today. That's why we love her.

The rocks along the way are here to pave our paths. How we look at them and honor them, will determine how well we'll overcome those challenges.

That afternoon, when I was lying in bed, crying my eyes out, I had a moment of gratitude. I didn't have it after I recovered from my mini breakdown. I had it WHILE I was having the breakdown.

That moment of gratitude showed me the bigger picture. It showed me that it was all going to be fine. "One day," I thought, "You will share with others and inspire them because you've overcome your own challenges."

Today is the day to tell that story. Today I have amazing clients, and I am even using their stories to write my book on manifesting abundance. Today things have shifted. Things are moving faster than ever in my business. For that I am grateful, and for all the hardships as well.

Now I'd love to introduce this new concept to you:

-- Are you struggling in your business?

-- Are you confused about what steps to take next in your life?

-- Is your heart broken?

-- Are you afraid of going for your dreams?

If you answered yes, then I want to invite you to be grateful for whatever is happening today.

A nice way to do it is to close your eyes and see yourself in your hardship, look at your fears, and look at your uncertainties.

Then I want you to imagine a bright white light coming from above. It's the light of gratitude.

Now surround yourself in that light. Get covered from your head to your toes in that white light and let it surround your fears and your pain.

Once you visualize yourself covered in that bright, white light, you can say:

"Thank you for this lesson."

And release the light back to the Universe. Release it with your lessons, your heartache, your fear and your pain.

When we are grateful for our hardships, WHILE they are happening, we will move forward faster. Because the lesson is not so much what we learned from a situation.

The lesson itself is in LOVING the lesson.

Happy Thanksgiving!

P.S. Do you want to learn how to get clarity for 2015? I'm hosting a Live Mastermind event this December!

Mercedes Maidana is a Motivational Speaker and Business and Abundance Life Coach who guides women to launch and improve their businesses, go for their dreams, and take action steps to live life to their highest potential. Continue the conversation with Mercedes and learn more about her work on Facebook and Instagram.