Gratitude is touted as a key to happiness. I absolutely unequivocally believe that it is true. But how do you find gratitude when life is off the rails, when it seems like you are taking one step forward and two steps back, or when it feels like there is a grand conspiracy against you? Life has a way of doing that to us sometimes.
In the wreckage, there is always at least some tiny grain of thankfulness. If we can find the little tiny grains and store them up for ourselves, before long we have a bushel basket. The more we have to be grateful for the less imposing our problems look.
Is your life a train wreck because of your own actions or things beyond your control? If they are because of your own actions you can be grateful that you can change your behaviors. If it is because of events that happened with none of your input, you can be grateful that you have the power to choose how you react to it.
Some of the worst problems we can have are the ones that are beyond our control. They happen to us without our consent and we end up feeling a little helpless. If we get bombarded with them it can make it particularly difficult to spot our blessings. In this case, one of the best techniques you can use is to shift your perspective.
Try looking from the outside in. If this were happening to someone else, you would be able to spot things that they should still be grateful for. Do it for yourself.
Compare yourself to yourself. Perhaps you are in a better position now to deal with the problem than you would have been 5-10 years ago. Maybe you have more resources at your disposal, maybe you’ve cultivated a better support system, or maybe you are just a stronger person than you used to be.
Look at the Details
Sometimes you have to go basic. Did you have hot water today? Did you have clean water? Do you have transportation to your job? Do you have a job? Do you have a coat to keep you warm? Food for your belly? These might be all things that you take for granted every day. They are a great place to start.
Still stuck? Can you be grateful for any of these?
- You have someone who loves you
- The weather is beautiful today
- You are healthy
- You are able to take care of yourself
- You have a safe place to sleep
- You are able to communicate
- You have problem-solving skills
- Your eyesight is good
- You are able to feed your family
- All five of your senses work
- You have the ability to help someone else
- You woke up this morning.
When All Else Fails
Sometimes, when it is really bad, it is ok just to be grateful that you’re still standing. Sometimes that is enough. Sometimes, that is the victory.