One of the most exciting parts of life is that it can be quite unpredictable. Humans are creatures of habit and this unpredictability is often very challenging. Each day, we face obstacles that test our ability to cope well with difficulties. Doom speakers don't have to set up a box to shout from in town square at high noon anymore. Our modern age has given them access to your attention anytime and anyplace. If you obsessively watch the news, it's easy to get angry, scared, or resentful and forget to be grateful for the good things in our lives. If we don't cherish and feel grateful for the good things, how can we justify wanting more of them? Consider using these easy gratitude practices when you need support in challenging times.
Include an act of kindness in your day. When we're going through a stressful or difficult period in our life, we intuitively focus on what is happening to us. Rarely do we stop to think about others. This is an opportunity to change your mindset and the narrative by doing something that is helpful to someone else.
- Recognizing that someone needs a hand (can be as simple as reaching something from a high shelf) can truly make their day easier. But how does that help you be more grateful? You can be grateful for growing tall.
- By being kind and generous to others, you create a greater sense of connection that generates a more positive outlook on life. You feel better about yourself.
Always say thank you. When things aren't going your way, it's difficult to feel grateful and notice things to be thankful for. Yet, even on the most difficult of days, there are plenty of small joys around you. You can notice them by shifting the point of your focus.
- What kind of blessings have I received lately? How can I show my gratitude for those blessings? Is there someone who deserves a thank you note from me?
- Being able to say thank you for the small things helps you to shift your focus from life's challenges to life's pleasures. This way, your mind expands and supports you in finding solutions and ways to get unstuck and move forward.
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Re-frame negative thoughts. Challenging times can bring on lots of negativity. If you are struggling, you may start to sabotage yourself by creating sadness, falling into despair, evoking regrets, and generating tons of unproductive negative thoughts.
- Changing your perspective is the best way to re-frame negativity. Remember that everything in life comes in the form of duality. Most things are not purely good or bad. Look at the goodness and benefits in your current struggles and try to learn from them.
- Negative thoughts only have the power to hurt you if you let them.
Keep a gratitude journal. This is a very popular gratitude practice. It comes with a variety of benefits, including better quality sleep, increased immunity, greater levels of resilience, and improved mood. All these benefits are needed when you’re going through a tough time in life.
- To start a gratitude journal all you need is a few moments of undisturbed time, willingness to reflect, and a way to capture your thoughts (notebook, phone, laptop).
- You can start by reflecting on the following questions: What experiences in my life can I be grateful for? What happened lately 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?
- Writing helps you to organize thoughts, process information and experiences, and supports you in accepting your challenging times by putting them in context.
Meditation. The practice of loving-kindness meditation emphasizes the practitioner's strength and capacity to feel unconditional gratitude. Besides opening your heart to appreciation, this tool is great for building lasting compassion towards yourself and others. Compassion is crucial if you’re looking to reduce stress and overcome obstacles in your life. Loving-kindness meditation serves as a tool for creating unconditional, inclusive love that leads to true wisdom. The love created this way has no conditions and it doesn't need to be deserved in any way.
Everyone struggles, gets stuck, and experiences difficulty. Next time you find yourself having a tough time, remember that crisis is also a wonderful growth opportunity. Embrace the challenge, enrich it with gratitude, and you’ll experience genuine growth.
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