When we’re feeling discouraged, alone, anxious, or angry, it’s hard to be grateful.
We know we’re supposed to feel grateful. It’s Thanksgiving-time after all. But you may be having a hard time tapping into gratitude right now. Our country is in turmoil, leaving us with a heaviness that’s hard to shake. Or maybe you’re overwhelmed with personal problems. Or perhaps you’re struggling with the extra work, financial hardship, or family turmoil that the holidays can bring.
Gratitude doesn’t always come easy
Sometimes we have to work at feeling grateful. But it’s a worthwhile practice.
There are a lot of good reasons to make a daily gratitude practice part of your life. According to Happify, people who practice gratitude regularly “experience more positive emotions, feel more alive, sleep better, express more compassion and kindness, and even have stronger immune systems.”
Practicing gratitude is simple, quick, effective, and free. There aren’t many things that can claim that!
Gratitude brings us back to the present
Instead of worrying about the future, gratitude reminds us of the here and now. Gratitude helps us focus on what’s good, on what’s working rather than what’s not.
Gratitude shifts the focus from problems to positives. When we focus on the good things in our lives, we train our brains to look for the positives. So, by practicing gratitude we will notice more of the good things in the world. Our problems don’t disappear, but they can feel more manageable.
A gratitude challenge
Even when you think gratitude might be helpful, it can still be hard to get started. The following gratitude journal prompts can help spark some ideas. Start small and gradually challenge yourself to find something to be grateful about even in life’s challenges. Write as much or as little as you want, but do try to be consistent so you begin to build the habit.
For the next 14 days, answer the question: “I am grateful for ____________” using each of these prompts. And feel free to add your own and keep the practice going after you’ve done the 14 listed.
- Something in nature
- A person
- Something I can see
- A hobby
- Something I only do at the holidays
- A gift I’ve been given
- Something about my health or body
- Something I’ve done to help others
- A possession
- A happy memory
- Something that keeps me safe
- Something that makes my life easier
- A talent
- A favorite food
If you take the 14-day gratitude challenge, I’d love to have you add your answers in the comments below. I hope you find it to be a beneficial exercise for bringing more hope and contentment into your life.
For more support, join me on Facebook and my e-newsletter (sign-up below).
© 2016 Sharon Martin, LCSW. All rights reserved.
Photo: Ben White on Upsplash