It may seem difficult to think about what you are grateful for when times
are uncertain and scary. Upholding or beginning a daily gratitude practice
can change our perspective and give us hope. Robert A. Emmons, author
of the book (Gratitude Works!) has this to say, “… not only will a grateful
attitude help—it is essential. In fact, it is precisely under crisis conditions
when we have the most to gain by a grateful perspective on life. In the
face of demoralization, gratitude has the power to energize. In the face of
brokenness, gratitude has the power to heal. In the face of despair, gratitude has the power to bring hope. In other words, gratitude can help us cope with hard times.”
To start your own gratitude practice:
1. Be honest with yourself and allow yourself to notice and acknowledge
the uncomfortable feelings. We cannot force gratitude. First, we must
practice self-compassion and give ourselves space to process our own
emotions. Unconditional self-acceptance and gentle self-talk allows us
to cultivate compassion for ourselves and extend it to others.
2. It isn’t necessary to minimize your own suffering. If you are hearing
that you should be grateful because you have food, clothes and shelter,
those are all things you could certainly feel grateful for, and you might
still feel sad or anxious or scared. All those emotions are equally valid,
and we can hold both gratitude and sadness at the same time.
3. Look for the small things that make you smile. Make a list of
whatever you might be grateful for today at this moment. It could be
anything; wind in the trees, a fresh vegetable that tastes extra good
today, a familiar voice on the phone, a hot cup of coffee, a spring
flower, a good book. Your list will be unique to you. We all have
different sources of comfort and joy.
4. Try reframing the stressful experiences to consider how you might use
the language of gratitude.
What lessons can you take from the experience?
What abilities or reserves of strength did the experience draw from you that surprised you?
How are you more the person that you want to be because of the experience?
Has the challenging experience made it easier for you to notice all there is to be grateful for?