Being grateful on a beautiful day when things are going right isn’t too hard; but how do you find gratitude when things are not going well? When we are having a rough time, the last thing we want to do is look on the bright side or focus on the positive. It doesn’t seem natural or even right to look for good things in a time of sadness or crisis. Surprisingly, this is time when we’ll get the most benefit from a grateful mindset—finding energy, healing and hope. Here are some ideas for developing gratitude in tough times:
- Start small. Sometimes all we can do is find one small thing that is That’s a good place to start. Focus on that one thing and express gratitude for it. It could be the breath in your body, a warm bed, enough food to eat, a starlit night, or the smile from another person. We tend to overlook these small things, but when we choose to focus on them and feel gratitude for them, our outlook can shift so that our burdens become slightly lighter.
- Make a list. Spend a few moments at the beginning of each day to write down those people, things and situations that you are thankful for. Starting the day with a sense of gratitude can transform our outlook.
- Don’t complain. Complaining can easily become a habit, hindering a grateful perspective. It’s natural to want to complain when things don’t go right, but every time we complain, we reinforce a negative state of mind. Next time you feel frustrated, take a few deep breaths and focus on something positive. Make a pact to avoid complaining for 21 days—the amount of time it takes to develop a new habit.
- Express gratitude. We are often so consumed with our daily routines and “to do” lists that we take people for granted. Take time to notice the people you encounter throughout the day and take a moment to say a simple thank you or another expression of appreciation to them. We’ve all experienced the good feeling that comes with appreciation or a random act of kindness—provide that feeling to someone else.
- Reach out. Give back to someone else in your community. Shifting the focus from our tough situation to helping others gives us a boost as well as helping the other person.