It’s been a challenging year for many of us. Even if you haven’t experienced financial hardship or lost a loved one during the pandemic, you’re likely experiencing the collective sense of anxiety that many of us have been feeling during these uncertain times.
I am a big believer in the power of gratitude. Even in difficult times, we can find something to be grateful for. Expressing gratitude is one of the simplest and easiest habits that can help you create a happier life.
Research supports the idea that expressing gratitude is strongly associated with greater happiness. Having a regular gratitude practice can help people be more optimistic, feel better about their lives, build strong relationships, be more resilient during difficult times, and even improve their physical health.
Choose a Grateful Perspective
Let’s get one thing out of the way: Being grateful and feeling grateful aren’t always the same thing. You can choose to have a thankful perspective, even if you don’t feel appreciative.
If you are experiencing hardship or grieving the loss of a loved one, you may not be feeling very grateful. And that’s okay. Practicing gratitude doesn’t mean denying or trying to bury your negative emotions. Your emotions are valid, and it’s beneficial to find healthy ways to process them.
Choosing a grateful perspective means looking at life as a whole, regardless of any temporary circumstances causing negative emotions. In this way, gratitude can help you weather more difficult periods and keep things in perspective even when present circumstances feel overwhelming.
Look for the Lesson
If we are willing to look within and do some inner work, we can learn some powerful lessons from our most challenging experiences. If you’re going through a difficult time, write down a few positive lessons you have learned about your life, yourself, or other people.
Some examples could include:
- I’ve learned that I am stronger than I realize.
- I’ve learned that I have a supportive network of close friends I can rely on.
- I’ve learned that practicing mindfulness can help me when I feel stressed and overwhelmed.
Once you have your list, read it out loud and express gratitude for every item you have written down. While you may still be struggling in your current situation, finding the lessons in your difficult circumstances is a powerful practice that can help you gain a more long-term perspective and build strength during periods of adversity.
Be Grateful for the Good in Your Life
No matter what you’re struggling with, there are likely other areas of your life that are going well. Take a few moments every day to reflect on what’s good in your life. Maybe you’re having career challenges, but you and your loved ones are all healthy, and you have a safe home to live in.
Keeping a gratitude journal is a great way to put this into practice. I like to start the day by writing down three things I’m grateful for. They can be small: some days, you may just feel thankful that you can take the time to sit down for a few minutes with a cup of tea. At the end of the day, revisit your journal and write down three things that happened that day for which you can be grateful.
When you practice gratitude, it will quiet your mind and help relieve tension, and this will help you become more focused and effective as you move toward your goals. By choosing a perspective of gratitude even in difficult times, you can create a happier, more fulfilling life.