Want to know how to feel more grateful in hard times?
Need to be more positive and make the most of your circumstances?
When hard times hit, it’s hard to see the bright side of things. The last thing you want someone to tell you is to “just be more thankful for what you have.” This is especially challenging considering the global pandemic and all the tragedy and turmoil it’s brought with it.
Lives are being changed and challenged in ways we haven’t seen in over a hundred years. It’s a scary and stressful time for everyone.
With all the uncertainty in the air, from financial concerns over the crisis to trying to stay sane while social distancing, could gratitude be the answer? While worrying about paying bills and keeping the kids occupied, can being more thankful offer some relief?
Mental health concerns are high right now, and being more positive, learning how to be happy and grateful are powerful coping strategies. Taking control of your mindset and becoming a positive thinker can not only change your perspective for today but help you find hope for tomorrow. But how?
That being said, I know that staying positive no matter what is harder said than done. And telling you to “just the more positive” isn’t helpful at all. So, allow me to turn to experts on the topic and share 11 practical ways to feel more grateful in hard times.
Plus, if you’re ready to take this journey of gratitude, click here to get your FREE 30-Day Gratitude Journal.
How to Feel More Grateful in Hard Times
#1. Focus on What You Have
Practice a positive mindset by focusing on what you have and what you can do instead of the things you don’t have or you are not able to do. There is so much power in positive thinking because it is so much more beneficial to our well being.
Whenever a negative thought pops up in your mind, immediately try to think about something positive that is in your life or you have done, or something that makes you happy. Don’t let negativity get to you.
By finding the good in a negative situation or changing your negative thoughts to positive, you will find plenty of possible ways how you can improve your life or express yourself creatively with the resources you already have while at the same time staying home.
Sedija Lejiete, Positivity Enthusiast
Sedija Lejietei s a positivity and positive body image enthusiast and a founder of a brand that is based on all things positive and fashion.
“Practice a positive mindset by focusing on what you have and what you can do instead of the things you don’t have or you are not able to do.” – Sedija Lejiete
#2. Do a Complaint Detox
Everyone has heard about detoxing your body and eating healthy. But we can also do a lot more to detox our minds as well. It doesn’t really matter what your circumstances are at the present moment. Complaining about what you lack in life or the injustices your ego feels the right to moan about, only dis-empowers you and creates a stronger story for your ego. Complaining then becomes a normal way of life and it’s difficult to get out of this victim mentality.
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For the next week, choose not to complain about anything and choose to see the positive in each situation. Observe how your ego wants to feel like a victim, and interrupt and challenge it. Think positively, expect only positive results and situations, and your circumstances will change accordingly. If you persevere, you will transform the way your mind thinks. It might take some time for the changes to take place, but eventually, they will.
All it requires to boost your joy is to take notes and write down 10-15 things you are grateful for each day. That’s it! Each morning before you start your day, write down all the things you are grateful for and then feel it in every cell of your body. Start your day like this for the next 30 days and you’ll notice a massive shift in your mood.
Kosta, Yoga Teacher
Kosta resides and teaches yoga in Koh Samui most of the year when he is not otherwise training or teaching in other countries. Born in Eastern Europe, with extensive time spent in Canada, Europe, America and Asia, Kosta is very much a global yogi with a global vision. Kosta’s passion for yoga blossomed in 2004 when he set out on his own journey of self-discovery. Kosta is the Founder of Vikasa Yoga Retreat and Academy.
“For the next week, choose not to complain about anything and choose to see the positive in each situation.” @vikasayoga
#3. Practice Being Thankful
Although to many of us, this feels like the opposite of a gift, there are times in life when we are given a moment. (My heart really goes out to those struggling with this sickness, with loss, and with the financial crisis right now.)
Whatever your struggle might be during this time, though, there is an offering in the storm. And that offering is learning how to truly be grateful. We didn’t see this coming, but boy did it ever. Our lives are flipped. Our lives are stripped. We are left with a choice: turn to complaining and sadness over the closed door, or practice being thankful for whatever opportunity this situation presents (even if we can’t see it clearly right now).
Your choice will determine everything. “Gratitude makes sense of our past, brings peace for today, and creates a vision for tomorrow.” – Melody Beattie.
Choose gratitude in these hard times.
Britney, The Happiness Agreement
While studying for her Master’s in Psychology, Britney decided that she wanted to pursue a career in the study of Positivity. So, she set out on a journey to uncover true happiness and has made it her life’s mission to share what she learns with the world. When she’s not writing or wrangling her twin boys, you can probably find her in the bed, crumbs all in the sheets, giggling at the Golden Girls, and thoroughly enjoying large portions of cheap Malbec. Britney shares How to Make the Choice to be Happy.
“We are left with a choice: turn to complaining and sadness over the closed door, or practice being thankful for whatever opportunity this situation presents.” @britatTHA
#4. Learn to Interrupt Cycling Thoughts
Consider interrupting the cycle of thoughts that can amplify your stress. This doesn’t mean you should deny the way you’re feeling; however, it means you can reduce stress by shifting your focus.
For instance, let’s say you’re thinking negative thoughts such as, “I can’t stand being stuck at home. I hate being so cut off from my family and friends.” See if you can shift your attention to positive aspects of the situation, such as “I’m fortunate to have a roof over my head. I’m grateful for the technology to video chat with loved ones.”
You can also shift your attention away from cycling thoughts by bringing awareness to your body. For example, you can interrupt your thoughts by shifting your attention to the soles of your feet. This can be practiced while walking around your home or while walking outdoors. Simply notice the feeling of each foot as it connects with the ground. Each time your attention wanders (which might be every second or two!) gently bring your awareness back to your feet.
Joy Rains, Author
Joy Rains is the author of the primer Meditation Illuminated: Simple Ways to Manage Your Busy Mind and host of the podcast Mindful 180. Her book and podcast are designed to help those new to meditation tap into its transformative power. More information can be found on www.joyrains.com.
“Consider interrupting the cycle of thoughts that can amplify your stress… you can reduce stress by shifting your focus.” @joy_rains
#5. See “The Sugar” in Small Moments
You know the saying “when life hands you lemons, make lemonade”, but you can’t make lemonade without any sugar–and right now it feels like there’s not a whole lot of sugar.
But I think we can find sugar in the small moments. For example, I’m trying to do therapy from home while also taking care of and schooling my young children. It is hard. AND each time I open my door, my 6 yr old son joyfully yells “MOOOMMMMYYY!!!” and it’s only 2 seconds, but when I truly show up for that moment and let it fill me with sweetness, it matters.
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These moments–whether it’s seeing the first flower bloom in spring when you’re out for a walk, or a great Zoom call with your grandmother, or a perfect cup of coffee in the morning,–when we show up, pay attention and are fully present for those it helps offset the painful moments. We need to make space for both.
Jill Stoddard, Therapist
Jill Stoddard is the author of Be Mighty: A Woman’s Guide to Liberation from Anxiety, Worry, and Stress Using Mindfulness and Acceptance and co-author of The Big Book of ACT Metaphors: A Practitioner’s Guide to Experiential Exercises and Metaphors in Acceptance and Commitment Therapy. She co-hosts the Psychologists Off The Clock Podcast and writes the Be Mighty blog for Psychology Today. Jill is a therapist and is the founder and director of The Center for Stress and Anxiety Management in San Diego, CA.
“Right now it feels like there’s not a whole lot of sugar. But I think we can find sugar in the small moments” @CSAMSanDiego
#6. Compare Down and Be Grateful
The top tip I would recommend is for people to feel more grateful in hard times is to compare down. Compare down is intentionally looking for how things could be worse. An extension of this is cultivating gratitude for how good things still are. As we think of how things could be worse it automatically makes us more appreciative of how things still are.
For example, we may compare down by thinking of how horrible it would be if we were under the pandemic without the internet. Then, we can think of how fortunate we are for having the internet because it allows us to stay connected with our family/friends and maintain our work.
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Another example of comparison would be to imagine living in 1918 during the Spanish flu when there was no vaccine because scientists couldn’t develop them yet. In turn, that cultivates gratitude that we live in a time where vaccines are possible and it’s only a matter of time before one is developed for this crisis.
Comparing down and cultivating gratitude lowers anxiety and promotes a positive mood, which improves mental health.
Dr. Wyatt Fisher, Licensed Clinical Psychologist
Dr. Wyatt Fisher is a Licensed Clinical Psychologist and Marriage Counselor in Boulder, CO who hosts a marriage podcast.
“Compare down is intentionally looking for how things could be worse. An extension of this is cultivating gratitude for how good things still are.” – Dr. Wyatt Fisher
#7. Adapt Your Mindset and Lifestyle
When we are faced with any situation that involves adversity, we have a choice in how we approach the situation. We can either allow it to overtake us, or we can rise to the occasion, reframe it as an opportunity, and adapt our mindset and lifestyle to ensure our well being – physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually.
The current pandemic is challenging our world on many fronts. While social-distancing and stay-at-home orders are necessary in order to slow the spread of the virus, many people are experiencing extreme loneliness during this period of isolation.
What is the most powerful way to combat loneliness and feelings of isolation during the quarantine? Get super creative with staying connected. While our traditional, face-to-face opportunities for connecting with others have been stripped away, we can still achieve meaningful moments of connection with others when we apply a healthy dose of creativity, open-mindedness, and determination. Group video chats, phone calls, email messages, and handwritten cards or notes are all ways to stay connected with others.
Even if you live with other people, you may still feel the effects of isolation and loneliness. Here, make focus on creating memories together. Plan family movie nights, game nights, paint “parties”, Ice Cream “Sundays”, homemade pizza parlor, or create family videos. Embrace the simplicity to feel more grateful in hard times and use this time to connect with others in new and exciting ways.
Pamela, Spiritual Life Coach
Pamela spent her twenties in Corporate America as an employee benefits consulting actuary for Fortune 500 companies. A mother to four children, in addition to two pregnancy losses that served as catalysts for her spiritual growth and transformation which inspired her to embark on the path of becoming a spiritual life coach. She has since founded her life-coaching business Live Authentically and has written her first book ‘SOAR’ which is available now.
“We can either allow it to overtake us, or we can rise to the occasion, reframe it as an opportunity, and adapt our mindset and lifestyle to ensure our well being” – Pamela Savinso
#8. Embrace Moments of Creativity
My suggestion is to always practice accessing higher states of energy. Embrace moments of creativity, calm, and fun when you can.
Find more joy in the small things, take more time for breaks, and indulge in what makes you happy.
The moments spent tapping into higher energy will help you relieve anxiety and elevate your overall emotional wellbeing. That’s the key to feeling more grateful during these hard times.
Antoinette Beauchamp, Empowerment Mindset Coach
Antoinette Beauchamp is an Empowerment Mindset Coach and Co-Founder of One & Many.
“Find more joy in the small things, take more time for breaks, and indulge in what makes you happy” – Antoinette Beauchamp
#9. Practice Self-Compassion
If you get easily frustrated or irritated at someone you are stuck at home with, give yourself grace. This is a whole new thing we are going through, and we are trying to figure it out a day at a time.
Give yourself a break from the expectations of being the perfect employee, partner, or parent. Accept feelings that may make you uncomfortable. If you feel “things suck”, let yourself acknowledge “things suck”. Allow yourself a “no judgment zone”. Let go of what you think you should or could have done differently.
Recognize that some days you may feel more productive than others, and that’s okay. I recently heard someone say, “This is a pandemic, not a productivity contest.” Many times we get on social media and put expectations on ourselves that are just unrealistic. We compare our story to someone else’s which makes us feel like we should be doing more.
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Let me give you permission to not feel like you have to keep up with the expectations you may feel because of what others are doing. Celebrate with others, yes. Put pressure on yourself to do the same, no. Identify what your priorities are at this time and focus on doing the things that matter most to you or your family.
Self-compassion says you are doing the best you can with what you have. And quite frankly, that’s all any of us can do right now.
Christy Pennison, Board-Certified Counselor
Christy Pennison, is a board-certified counselor, mental health consultant, and owner of Be Inspired Counseling & Consulting. She inspires hope for change through counseling and consulting to help individuals of all ages move forward and live fully.
“Let me give you permission to not feel like you have to keep up with the expectations you may feel because of what others are doing.” – Christy Pennison
#10. Push Yourself to Think Positively
The secret to dealing with any kind of stress is to have a positive mindset about it. Being negative and thinking only about the downside will not help you. If I could only give you 1 piece of advice about how to feel more grateful in hard times, this would be it… flip your thoughts positive.
Instead of thinking of the worst case scenario and the most awful things that could happen, please push yourself to think positively and be optimistic.
Here’s a quick and easy way to reframe a negative thought: ask yourself, if I had to turn this into a positive, and still true, story… how could I do it?
For example, if I accidentally backed- up my new car into a tree and damaged the bumper, I could say, “OMG, I am such a ding-bat, I can’t believe I hurt my new car, I can’t do anything right!” Or, I could turn this thought around using the positive story reframe and say, “I am so lucky that my car is strong and just got a tiny scratch and that my seat belts worked and I didn’t get hurt at all. The car did just what it should, it protected me!”
Dr. Kathy Nickerson, Licensed Clinical Psychologist
Dr. Kathy Nickerson is a licensed clinical psychologist and nationally recognized relationship expert who has helped thousands of couples. Over the past 20 years, Kathy has presented marriage and relationship advice at more than 70 conferences, while authoring more than 85 professional articles and books and is launching a book in early 2020. Kathy has successfully helped thousands of couples in her private practice and via thoughtfully crafted online therapy sessions designed for each couple’s unique needs. Her goal is to help as many couples as possible to strengthen and heal their relationships.
“Flip your thoughts positive. Instead of thinking of the worst case scenario and the most awful things that could happen, please push yourself to think positively and be optimistic.” @drkathynick
#11. Have an Optimistic State of Mind
Whatever you do, remain optimistic. If you are not optimistic, then try to do whatever you possibly can–that is healthy, of course–to achieve a positive state of mind.
Find joy in the small things, have hope for tomorrow, and believe that this will ultimately pass (because it will). A positive mind is a healthy mind, and given the challenges we are currently facing, we need to remain as mentally healthy as possible to resume normalcy and beyond.
Plus, an optimistic mind helps you feel more grateful in hard times.
Matt Glowiak, PhD, LCPC, CAADC, NCC. is a practicing therapist, a professor, and a mental and behavioral health writer for Choosing Therapy (a Mental Health Startup based in Brooklyn, NY). He’s authored chapters in multiple textbooks and published online in the likes of Counseling Today, CONTACT, and The Advocate Magazine.
“Find joy in the small things, have hope for tomorrow, and believe that this will ultimately pass (because it will).” @ChooseTherapy
30 Days to Feel More Grateful in Hard Times
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You can train yourself to think more positivity and to feel more thankful no matter what’s happening around you. It all starts with one positive or grateful thought at a time.
Turn away from negative thinking, put away the stress, and let gratitude guide you.
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How do you feel more grateful in hard times?