Have you ever struggled to find gratitude because you were in a funk feeling beat down by life?
How do you find gratitude when life is looking dark and gloomy?
There is always something to feel thankful for!
Sometimes you need to look harder for things to feel thankful for than others.
While the rest of the world is shifting their focus to gratitude and excitement for the holidays, it can feel forced when you are struggling with lackluster circumstances, depression, loss, grief and/or loneliness.
As a mother, one thing I have come to learn is that for some, gratitude is a natural thing. For others, it is something that needs to be developed, cultivated and honed. In any case, gratitude is very much a practice and well worth the focus.
Here are 6 ways to find gratitude in the hardest of times:
Find a way to give back to your community by volunteering. We all have a gift to give and one of the most valuable gifts you can give is your time and attention. You may comfortable cocooning in your snuggie wrap, whilst streaming Netflix and wallowing in self-pity, feel grateful for those comforts as there so many who don’t have heat or roof over their head. Spending a few hours at a shelter or soup kitchen will give you a big dose of gratitude for what you do have. It’s easy to feel thankful for a full belly after spending an afternoon with those who don’t know where their next meal is coming from.
Take a few minutes each day to jot down what you are thankful for. One of my favorite tools for doing this is my Panda Planner! It is an amazing planner for those with ADHD too, but what I love most about it is that there is a focus on daily gratitude, weekly gratitude and what you are looking forward to. There is also a place for affirmation and how you plan to improve tomorrow. When you slow down long enough to think about it, you will be amazed at what you come up with!
Be mindful of the energy you bring into your space and search for the good in every moment. What you look for, you will find more of! Even on our worst day, there is something to be found if you bring your attention to it. Don’t lose sight of the beauty and wonder of the present moment. Even if there is a tornado ripping through your backyard, observe the power and beauty in it and find gratitude for your homeowner’s insurance! Some days you have to look harder than others, but there is a silver lining in every storm!
Look for the Lessons in Lackluster Experiences
Every dose of adversity eventually brings a blessing! Had someone said this to my 11 years ago, perhaps I would have disagreed. Today, however, that truth is undeniable to me. No one aspires to be a victim of abuse, divorcé, single parent or become alcoholic. If you work hard enough though, all of that adversity can undoubtedly become an asset. By no means do I want to overcome such things again in this lifetime, but I have walked through enough adversity to know firsthand, this is true. Depending on what you take from it, you can choose to be a victim or a victor. I’m an effin’ warrior! You can be the hero of your own story too… It’s a choice.
Try unplugging from social media and all other forms of media that leave you feeling less-than or riddled with fear and anxiety. Scrolling through social media and the news is about as uplifting as observing a massive trainwreck. There is morbid curiosity that pulls us to it but resists the impulse as little good comes of it. If you spend your time comparing your innermost feelings to someone else’s facade, you are destined for a decline in mood and gratitude. Additionally, if you are watching reports on disasters and catastrophes all across the world, it will make it hard to see the beauty right outside your door.
Our emotions alter our breathing patterns. We breathe shallow and quickly when stressed out or anxious. But if you change your breath, you can change your mood! How amazing is that!? Take a few moments to slow your breath and do some diaphragmatic (belly) breathing while focusing on a positive memory, though, mantra or object. You have the power to change your mood and emotions by controlling your breath. It’s a superpower—us it!
To learn more about diaphragmatic breathing, read Breathing and Anxiety to learn more.
Protect Your House
There are some people who have the ability to suck the life out of us. I call them Energy Vampires. Try taking a hiatus from negative people and make a very concerted effort to surround yourself with positive people. If you don’t have any in your life, find some! I personally love elderly people and children. It’s hard to engage with either age group and not get some sort of positivity. All you need to do is make eye-contact, make them feel seen and heard and smile. Amazing experiences usually follow. Some of the most positive and incredible conversations I have had have been with total strangers.