Gratitude When Times Are Tough

Colorful sunset with a silhouette of the city

It’s easy to be grateful when everything in life is going well – when you are getting ahead in your career, when you are in a loving relationship, when you continuously receive countless blessings. But it gets a lot harder to feel gratitude when you are going through some difficult times. It even seems counterintuitive. I mean, why would I feel thankful when I am hitting rock bottom? What exactly would I be thankful for?

Even if it is the last emotion that you may feel in difficult times, gratitude can help you cope (and heal) through challenging situations in your life. When times are tough, it becomes more important to make gratitude a deliberate practice. Through practicing gratitude, you open your eyes to the good around you, which you may have been blinded to while you were focusing on the negative.

“The root of joy is gratefulness…It is not joy that makes us grateful; it is gratitude that makes us joyful.” –  Brother David Steindl-Rast

So how do you practice gratitude when you don’t feel like it? I found a few tips that personally helped me through tough times:

Start with the tiny things

Your life may not be so great right now, but you just had a delicious cup of coffee and the barista gave you the warmest smile. Or maybe you had a pretty comfortable commute this morning. Or maybe your hair is behaving well today. All these things, no matter how small, are worth being thankful for.

Remember the things that you have now that you once prayed for

You can spend too much time thinking about your current negative situation that you tend to forget how far you’ve come. Remember the progress that you have made, and appreciate it.

List it down

You can start writing a gratitude journal, or even just write down things that you’re thankful for in any piece of paper. There’s something about writing things down on a physical sheet of paper that makes them more real.

There must be a hidden lesson or opportunity there somewhere…

This one might need more effort than the previous ones. Trying to look at the silver lining of a tough situation can turn it into a learning – even empowering – experience. Did you become more resilient? Did you become wiser? Was it a failure that pointed you to a better direction?

Lastly, remember that bad times don’t last forever. It is all part of the ups and downs of our lives. Hang in there, you got this 💜

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