Do you struggle to feel grateful in tough times? A client of mine called me a few days before Christmas because she had hit a pothole with her car. It ripped a hole in her oil pan. Now she was going to have to pay over $1,000 to fix it.
This incident was challenging her ability to cope. It was an unexpected expenditure and she was going to be without her car for a couple of days.
When she called, she was nearly panicked and wanted advice on what to do. So I asked her, “What are you grateful for?”
The Struggle to Feel Grateful in Tough Times
Don’t get me wrong. It can be hard to feel grateful in tough times. I know this for a fact.
It’s easy to get angry, scared, or resentful when you have the kind of challenges my client had. It can be hard to feel grateful in tough times.
Here’s what you need to remember. If you don’t cherish and feel grateful for the good things you have now, you’ll never be able to feel grateful. In fact, it’s when you’re challenged that its most important to dig for those things you are grateful for.
How to Feel Grateful in Tough Times
When my client told me about her oil pan she was surprised when I asked her what she’s grateful for. In fact, she told me she couldn’t think of anything at the moment. So I went through a series of processes with her to help her remember.
You can use these same, easy to follow gratitude practices when you want to feel grateful in tough times:
1.Do Something Kind for Somebody Else
Stressful, difficult times can turn your focus inward. This can make you self-centered and focuses your mind on self-pity.
To pull yourself out of this negative mindset, think about doing something kind for someone else.
Ask yourself, “Who has shown me support and love lately?”
Then ask, “How did that make me feel?”
Now ask yourself, “Who can I show a simple act of kindness to today, so they can feel that way too?”
When you are kind and generous to others, you connect yourself to the here and now. This generates a more positive outlook on life that helps you feel better about yourself.
2. Remember to Say “Thank You”
When times are tough. Life can make you can feel like a victim. This can make it extremely hard to feel grateful or notice things to be thankful for.
But, if you pay attention, there are plenty of small joys to be thankful for, even on the most difficult of days. To notice them you need to shift your focus.
Ask yourself, “What kind of blessings have I received lately?”
Now ask, “How can I show my gratitude for those blessings?”
Another thing you can ask, “Is there someone who deserves a thank you note from me?”
Saying “Thank you” shifts your focus from life’s challenges to what you are grateful for. An added benefit of this process is your mind will how start to look for solutions. This will help you get unstuck and move forward.
3. Learn How to Re-frame Your Challenges
Your frame is how you see the world, your perspective. The reason it can be a struggle to feel grateful in tough times is because of how you are looking at the world. You are focused on life’s negativity. This can lead to self-sabotage and more negative outcomes.
The best way to change your perspective is re-framing negativity. When “bad” things happen ask yourself, “What’s good about this?”
If your first answer is “nothing” then ask yourself, “What could be good about this?”
What you’re doing is getting your mind focused on ways to make life better. Look at the benefits of your current struggles and try to learn from them.
Remember, negative thoughts only have the power to hurt you if you let them.
This is probably the easiest and least used gratitude practice used during tough times. But it also comes with a ton of great benefits including better quality sleep, increased immunity, greater levels of resilience, and improved mood.
Just take a few undisturbed moments to reflect on what you’re grateful for and capture your thoughts in a notebook or on your phone or laptop.
Here’s some easy questions you can ask yourself:
“What have I experienced that I can be grateful for?”
“What happened in the last week that makes me feel thankful?”
“What opportunities do I have today?”
“What have the significant others in my life done that I am grateful for?”
When you write, you are organizing your thoughts and putting them into the here and now. This helps you process your experiences and put them in to a positive context.
All these benefits are needed when you’re going through a tough time in life.
You Can Feel Grateful in Tough Times
Part of the human experience is struggling and dealing with difficult experiences. This can make it difficult to feel grateful.
But if you’ll use these easy to follow processes, you can learn to feel grateful in tough times.
Just remember, crisis is also a wonderful growth opportunity. As you encounter your challenges, embrace them and then look for the opportunities. Decide how they can help you grow.
Soon you too can start to feel grateful in tough times.