It is easy to be grateful when life is good – when we get the promotion that we have been working so hard for, when we did well on a tough exam, when we get to spend a lot of time bonding with loved ones, and when our health is at its top form. Being grateful is almost a natural response when things go according to plan, but what happens when things go badly? Does gratitude still flow as freely?
Sometimes, it does; more often, it does not (no need to feel bad about it, though, we have all been there!). And it is not for the lack of trying – we try to compensate for hardships and failure by looking at the so-called brighter side of things. It is hard but certainly not impossible.
Gratitude is a choice, they say, and it comes naturally when good things are present. However, seeing the good when things go awry and challenging becomes harder. It gets better if you view gratitude as a state of mind – you can think of it as a form of positive psychology, the silver lining amidst the negative things that happen in life. You may lose your job, get sick, or experience trouble at home. Still, if there is gratitude in your heart, you will be able to cope with stress more effectively, recover quickly, and show better resilience in the face of adversity. It sounds too good to be true and almost cliché but believe it or not, it will change your life in the best ways!
There are different ways for modern women to practice gratitude during difficult times. Here are five examples:
Create a list of things that you are grateful for
When you count your blessings, you become more aware of how lucky you are to be alive. You can start by listing the ten things that you are grateful for – a warm cup of coffee on a cold morning, a comfortable bed to sleep in at night, a smile from a child, the sound of a loved one’s laughter, a compliment from your superior, a traffic-less commute. It does not have to be too big or grand; it just needs to transform an ordinary day or a typical instance into an opportunity to be happy (and thankful, of course!).
Once you have listed ten things, it will be easier to increase the number to twenty, thirty, and more next time. You can refer to your gratitude list for much-needed inspiration when feeling down.
Be grateful every day.
Blessings are everywhere; if you can recognize them, you can see the world from a whole new perspective. The rest will follow if you start each morning with a grateful heart. A positive outlook will influence how you carry out your daily tasks and interact with others. If it becomes a habit, it will have a positive ripple effect: your productivity at work will increase, your relationship with other people will be developed, and your overall disposition will improve.
Venting out after an unpleasant experience feels good but be wary: complaining too often is a bad habit. Complaining creates and attracts negative energy, which can be draining in the physical, mental, and emotional sense. Studies show that the body’s cortisol levels, also known as the stress hormone, increase when a person complains. If the cortisol levels are always high, the risk for sleep and digestive problems, depression, heart disease, and higher blood pressure also increase.
Say ‘thank you’ and mean it.
Every day, we are so wrapped up in our routines and responsibilities that we take people for granted. A simple ‘thank you’ becomes elusive, and we forget that it can do wonders for both the giver and the receiver. So always express gratitude, whether a favor is big or small, and make sure that you mean it when you say it!
Treat each day as a gift.
A short video called ‘A Good Day’ describes each day as a gift and instructs us that “the only appropriate response to this gift is gratefulness.” It is a statement that perfectly sums up the mindset needed to face the day: the best way forward is by looking at the day through gratitude-tinted lenses. This will give us the strength to conquer the worst situations and allow us to discover our more resilient and happier selves. I mean, who wouldn’t be grateful for the chance to start a new page each day, right?
Do not forget – your feelings are valid!
If you are dealing with a life-threatening disease, mental illness, stressful workload, or loss of a significant person, it would be challenging to find the proverbial silver lining. That is normal, and you should not feel guilty or ashamed for feeling sad, helpless, desperate, anxious, or miserable. You are human, not a machine, and your feelings are valid – do not forget that. Acknowledge your emotions and allow yourself to see the best in the worst.
During the most trying times, if you search deep within yourself, you will find at least one blessing or act of kindness for which you should be thankful. Hold on to this and let it guide you through the despair and misery. Before you know it, the storm will be over, and you will be a survivor. Life is not always fair, perfect, or easy, but you can always be hopeful and grateful for something!