These days, gratitude has become one of the most fashionable words in the personal growth and development scene. It seems as if you can't go too far without reading an inspirational quote or motivational blog that lists gratitude practice as one of the most important tools for significant life change, manifesting your desires, or living a life of happiness.
Which, of course, totally makes sense. Being thankful for all of the positive things in your life sounds like a surefire strategy to increase happiness and overall wellbeing. Just say thanks for the people, events, and situations that are in your life. Pretty easy, right?
We've all been there. Whether it's financial woes, relationship troubles, or suffering through an intolerable and unsatisfying job, everyone experiences times when their problems seem to be unbearable, stacking up higher and higher with no end in sight. When we are constantly feeling smacked by everything that is going wrong in our lives, it's hard to feel thankful for the things that are going right.
However, those inspirational quotes and motivational blogs are right "” regularly expressing gratitude is life changing. In our darkest times, the light that expressing gratitude brings can be comforting and liberating. It's not always easy, but regularly feeling and expressing gratitude can have an amazing and profound impact on your life.
So what do you do when expressing gratitude feels like a stretch? Try engaging in one of these strategies:
1. Bring it Back to Basics
Keeping a gratitude journal is a popular and organized way to keep track of what matters most. However, when you are feeling less than optimistic about life, filling journal pages about all of your wonderful experiences can feel downright impossible. If you are feeling stuck on what to write, try starting with the simplest things in your life. Indoor plumbing, access to clean water, and food to eat are some things you likely have that a good portion of the world's population does not. If you can read this, give thanks for your eyesight. If you are listening to music or the television right now, express gratitude for electricity and your abundance of technology. Often we get so focused on what we don't have, we forget about all of the wonderful little things that make our lives pretty awesome.
2. Find the Silver Lining
Even the most frustrating situations have a kernel of positivity in them. You may have to dig deep, but search for the good in problematic or challenging times. For example, you may hate your job, but it provides you with a consistent and steady income. Your house might need some repairs, but it likely is a comfortable and safe shelter. Looking for the positive might make a situation more tolerable and can help you see things from a different perspective.
3. Make a Gratitude Playlist
Create a powerful playlist of jams that make you feel positive and inspired. When you are feeling particularly frustrated or overwhelmed, instead of sulking into it further by singing the blues, put on some tunes that are sure to boost your mood. Pack more punch in your playlist by including songs that bring back positive memories of people and places for which you feel thankful to have in your life.
4. Think About Bad Times
This one might seem counterintuitive, but, chances are, you've experienced and survived situations similar or worse to the problems you are experiencing. Many of us are so focused on the future and the gap between where we are and where we want to be, that we ignore how far we've come from where we were. Likely, when you think about all of the tough times you've survived, you will feel gratitude for where you are now.
5. Feel Grateful For Not Feeling Gratitude
In the push for creating a positive mindset and lifestyle, it may seem as if there is no room for other feelings to exist. However, the truth is, part of being an emotionally whole adult is the ability to accept and sit through all of our emotions "” not just the good ones. When you are feeling frustrated, angry, sad, or upset, thank those feelings for showing up. Then, take some time to sit with them. What is the negative feeling trying to tell you? Often, when we battle frequently with negative emotions, our intuition is trying to tell us something, and is just hoping you will stop long enough to listen. Perhaps the lack of feeling gratitude is due to the fact that it's time to make some much needed changes in your life.
Expressing gratitude is a skill that can be developed with time, patience, and practice. There is no one right way to show your thanks and appreciation. Play around with different forms of expression until you find ways that work for you.