5 Ways to Let Gratitude In
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?