There are great times and there are shitty times. But what if there was a way to maximize the times when things are good, and minimize the impact of the tough times?
One tried and tested way to do this is by practicing gratitude. Gratitude is what keeps us grounded in our good moments. It helps us feel connected to others and it can help us see the silver lining in bad situations.
Studies have shown that having an attitude of gratitude can reduce stress levels and improve overall well-being.
Researchers at the University of California found that showing gratitude even just to yourself has long lasting effects on your brain… linking grateful attitudes to things like donating more money than usual, tipping higher amounts, and even major productivity boosts throughout the day.
Even more, practicing gratitude can increase serotonin and help produce more dopamine, making you feel better even when your situation isn’t so great.
Gratitude doesn’t just make us feel good—but it’s also good for our health!
How To Be Grateful In Hard Times
So, what the hell is gratitude? And, what does practicing gratitude even look like?
In a general sense, it’s reminding yourself that no matter what, you always have good times and good people in your life to be thankful for. It means having a deep sense of appreciation for what you have despite everything else.
Your best friends and family, your comic book collection, your literal beating heart… these are all things to be grateful for. Practicing gratitude means telling yourself, “Things may feel terrible right now, but I’m thankful for everything I have.”
Keeping that attitude of gratitude when it’s most difficult is the best tool to help you get through that storm. Here’s how you can do just that:
♡ Be content with what you already have.
Being happy with what you have is the core of gratitude – the glue that holds that feeling of being grateful together. Make a list of all the positive things in your life, or all of the aspects that make you feel positive.
Even if it’s a short list, it’s important to remind yourself that there are in fact good things about your life. It can be the hardest part of practicing gratitude though, because you’ve got to remember… It’s not a competition.
Just remember it’s YOUR life to be grateful for, and no one else’s.
♡ Start small.
Look… we all know Rome wasn’t built in a day. Don’t overload yourself with attempting to practice gratitude for everything in your life all at once. Especially on those tough days.
You have time, so start small.
This means figuring out what you’re most grateful for, or what you’re most recently grateful for. We all have a great example in the form of the pandemic. In the beginning and for almost the whole thing, it was a tough time for everyone. We’re grateful now that social distancing is a thing of the past and that we can be with our favorite friends and family members again. Most of us, anyways LOL.
♡ Meditate on gratitude.
Sitting with what makes you happy in the midst of a storm can help too!
Meditating can be hard for some of us, but it doesn’t always require sitting in one place and saying, “OHMMMMM.” You can meditate on the things you’re grateful for to help shed negative feelings for just 5-10 minutes at a time. Check out this post to learn how Lauryn got into meditation and how to get started.
♡ Forgive yourself and others.
Feel like you’ve been wronged by someone in your past? How about if YOU were the person who did the wronging?
Forgiveness can be a powerful way of practicing gratitude. Part of finding gratefulness in our lives is forgiving those who have hurt us, and forgiving ourselves for hurting others (and our own selves).
It’s not just saying sorry for the way things happened. It’s also letting go of the negative feelings that come with how they happened. It means working on ourselves and accepting that there is always a way to move forward, and finding healthy and positive ways to do so.
♡ Lend a helping hand.
We’re all in this together.
And we know that sometimes, things don’t go the way we want them to. It’s normal—and it’s okay.
In tough times, be willing to lend a helping hand. Do something productive to remedy the situation, as opposed to just basking in the negativity. Be willing to compromise and ready to move forward.
On that note, lend a hand in a different way to get outside of yourself. Volunteer your time to a local charity or do something nice for your community. Doing something for others instead of being in your head is like magic when going through something tough.
♡ Talk about it.
Sometimes the best thing to do to feel grateful in your life is to just get it out there.
Outwardly expressing gratitude can provide many mental and physical benefits. Verbally expressing gratitude decreases potential depression, anxiety, and even chronic pain and the risk of disease. It can feel like a significant weight is lifted off of your shoulders as well.
♡ Find hidden gems.
Feeling grateful isn’t just a feel-good idea—it’s an actual practice that can help us find hidden opportunities in even the toughest times.
For example, when you journal about what you’re grateful for each day, you’ll start to notice patterns in your thinking and behavior that can lead you to discover new opportunities for growth or change. This is why it was so important for Lauryn to put a GRATEFULS prompt in The HOT MINUTE PLANNER.
♡ Try ‘No Complaining for 21 Days’.
Sometimes even we get annoyed at our own constant complaining. So why not try something new?
Medium wrote an article on a 21 Days Without Complaining system, and it can be super helpful.
The idea is that you give yourself a tangible way of knowing you haven’t complained in three weeks with just an elastic band (or your own unique system). This can help with awareness of thoughts and general disposition on your life and the world around you.
♡ Bring in your support system.
Having a solid support system is another key way of practicing gratitude.
It can be a difficult time trying to traverse hardship alone, and knowing that there are people in your corner that you can call on can make all the difference.
It’s easy to think that you’re alone or that no one understands… but guess what? You’re not alone. Your support system is there to try and understand exactly what you’re going through. We absolutely cannot get through this life without a little bit of help.
Remember that it does take a village. (And that doesn’t just apply to the kiddos.)
When times are hard, practicing gratitude can help.
The truth is, practicing gratitude is a choice.
In hard times, it’s easy to get caught up in negativity and lose sight of all the good things in life. It’s natural to feel like you’re drowning in problems and that you’ll never be able to make it out alive.
BUT, if you can find a way to practice gratitude, even just a little bit, you’re going to start feeling better—and eventually, your attitude will begin to shift.
Being grateful is not always easy when things aren’t going well. But if you can remember that there are always silver linings and ways of looking at things positively, then it becomes easier and easier over time.
Most importantly, remember this: there are good people out there who want nothing more than for their loved ones to be happy and healthy—including YOU. So don’t be afraid to reach out for help when you need it most.
Tell us what makes you grateful these days by leaving a comment below.
x, The Skinny Confidential team.
+ check out these unique wellness practices you haven’t heard of.
++ stalk the benefits of a dream journal here.
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