Cultivating Gratitude in Challenging Times

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This has been a challenging year, and here we are at Gratitude Week. While most of us look forward to enjoying a festive meal with friends and family, that may not be happening this year. So how can you cultivate a sense of gratitude even in the most challenging of times? Consider these ideas:

Search for the positive.

  • You may be going through a stressful or difficult period in your life, but it shouldn’t stop you from seeing appreciating the good things that are happening (and there’s always some).
  • What are the positive areas in your life that aren’t being affected by your current challenges? Do you still have your home and health? Do you still have a job that provides for your family? Did the current pandemic allow you time to pursue your passion, organize your house, spend quality time with the family?
  • By focusing on the positive aspects of your life, you’ll find areas in which you can still feel thankful.

Treasure the small details.

  • It’s easy to lose sight of the small details if you’re overwhelmed by a difficult situation at home or at work. However, if you learn to treasure the details, you’ll welcome gratitude back into your life.
  • Have you made positive changes in your home, perhaps a remodeling project or started holiday decorating? Are you proud of a small project at work? Did you finish a long book? Were your dogs happy to see you? Did you see some beautiful flowers? These small details can make a big difference in your gratitude levels.
  • You can show your appreciation for the little things by keeping a Gratitude Journal and writing down three small things you appreciated about your day.

Search for joy.

  • It’s important to add joy to your daily schedule. Watch a comedy, read a comic book, or share jokes with friends. Add laughter to your routine.
  • Laughter can help you notice the areas that need gratitude in your life.
  • Joy can help you feel appreciation toward your family, friends, coworkers, and neighbors.
  • What kind of music puts you in a joyful mood? What makes you happy to be alive? What always makes you smile? What’s your favorite happy movie?

Put your pain in perspective.

  • Practicing meditation can help you stay in the moment and helps you getting lost in the negative emotions.
  • Don’t compare yourself to others. Spend less time on social media. Comparison is a recipe for disaster.
  • Remember that you’re not alone in your pain and other challenges. If you’re worried about your house, job, or health, know that others are too.
  • Perspective can help you understand that everyone faces difficult challenges. You’re not alone, and you can still feel grateful for other things in your life.

Understand the power of change.

  • Change is a regular part of existence, but when you’re struggling, you might feel as if your life will never change. Remind yourself of life’s impermanent nature, that changes occur all the time, and change can lead to gratitude.
  • You can show your gratitude by recognizing that changes occur and can lead to better things. If you feel trapped and stagnant, keep in mind that a transformation is possible. It may take time, friends, effort, and perseverance, but you’ll get past your difficult situation.
  • What positive changes have you made in the past year? What changes do you need to make to live the life you want? What positive has come out of a recent change? What are small changes you can make to help you reach your goals?

Your ability to find gratitude doesn’t have to be limited during challenges. Search for the positive areas in your life, even as you struggle in other areas. Remember that you’re not alone and that everything changes. Soon, you’ll find yourself feeling the gratitude that you seem to have lost.

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