Feeling grateful when something good happens is a natural reaction. Who wouldn't celebrate getting their dream job or having a near-perfect day, or engaging in a conversation with someone they like? Gratitude comes easy on jolly days. But, what about the times when we feel lost, defeated, and broken; when it's hard to find anything to be grateful for, to see any source of light at all. How do we feel grateful then? And, should we even try?
At Gratitude, we are not proponents of incessant, boundless positivity. We are not advising you to force yourself to laugh when you're breaking down or to run away from your emotions. Gratitude is not about pretending. It is not the act of spreading a sparkly blanket over our thorns. Gratitude is about re-framing perspective. It is a coping mechanism that helps us to get through our tough times. And therefore, it is essential to practice it, especially during dark days.
Here's how you can feel grateful when the going gets tough:
1. Embrace how you feel
The first step for you can be to shed any pressure to feel anything other than what you do. You don’t have to rush feeling better. Running away from the truth hardly ever helps... Accept that at the moment, you are not at your best. Right now, it might be hard to feel joyful. Try to take a deep breath and let go of the stress.
2. This is not the story of your life
Any failure or loss will hurt you, teach you lessons and shape you in some capacity, but it will not define you. You are not your wrong decisions or lost opportunities. Lose some weight on your inner critic.
3. Hold on to the tiniest source of happiness
Did anything good happen at all? Anything? Did a bird sing a sweet song? Did you watch a funny video? Saw someone with a pleasing smile? A beautiful flower? If nothing good happened at all, hold on to a fond memory. Make something happen for you, a simple sweet comforting feeling. Let that be the hope that gets you through the day, the one thing that you can feel grateful for.
4. Remember the past
Is this the first time you've fallen? It may be your hardest fall but remember that you survived all of your bad days. Believe in your strength. Feel grateful for all the times you made it through. You'll make it through this one too.
(You can practice positive affirmations like “I am choosing to let go of my fear” and many more on the Gratitude mobile app.)
5. Look at others
There are always people who can inspire you. So many stories of people fighting their fears and incapacities to rise higher, be happier. In all of these people, you'll find resilience born with gratitude for the blessings in their life, no matter how small.
(“I have learned to count my blessings and name them one by one. I have learned to focus on the brighter side of anything that happens to me instead of complaining about them.” - Rachel, a Gratitude User. You can read her full story and more Gratitude Stories on the blog and the app. We share them daily.)
6. Don't count all of your sorrows
In bad times, we tend to run down spirals counting the misfortunes in our lives. All the mistakes, defeats, and unhappy times. We highlight the negatives. No one is telling you to ignore the truth, but be careful to choose your battles. If there are five things that you feel sad about, is there one thing that you feel grateful for? Maybe it's not big enough to overpower your sorrow, but that is not the intention. You only need one lighted candle to guide you in the dark.
(Gratitude journaling is an effective activity that directs your focus towards the blessings in your life. You can start your practice on the Gratitude mobile app for a safe, private, and portable journal.)
7. Focus on the lessons
The best way to go about hardships is to look for lessons in them. Again, this is not to say that you should ignore your pain, but find the positive side in testing times. There must be something that you can learn from this. Feel grateful for the lesson and gain strength from it.
8. Give yourself time
Some ordeals are too painful to heal from within a short time frame. Misfortunes like the death of a loved one, financial crisis, a career setback, etc., take time and effort to recover from. Some days may go by without any sign of hope but remember that this too shall pass. No one deserves to be so hurt but all we can do is take it one day at a time while finding little sources of joy and comfort.
Hold on to gratitude. Hold on to hope. You'll be okay, with time.
Our users practice gratitude on the app to embrace and appreciate the positive side in every situation. With writing in the journal, repeating positive affirmations, reading inspirational quotes and resources, and setting goals with the vision board, they have brought inspiring changes in their life. You can try it too if you'd like to.
We hope that these words could help you out in some way. Share this article with anyone who can benefit from it. Breathe in, breathe out. You'll be alright.