Let’s face it… sometimes life sucks. When life isn’t going your way, or when you feel like life keeps piling on more and more bullsh*t every week, the last thing you probably want to do is practice gratitude. Why should you be grateful when life is beating you down?
Several studies have shown that practicing gratitude can improve physical health, lengthen lifespan, decrease materialism, and so much more. People who intentionally practice gratitude tend to report less burnout, more happiness, and greater satisfaction with life overall. It can even influence more scientific aspects of life, such as better sleep and less fatigue.
Aside from all that, sometimes it’s just a necessary change of pace to allow yourself to feel something positive. It’s extra challenging to be grateful for anything when you’re in a bad spot in life, but it’s not totally impossible. Here are four ways you can practice gratitude when it seems like life is falling apart.
How to Practice Gratitude when Everything Sucks
Don’t look at others’ bad situations to make yourself feel better.
I know a lot of folks may have been taught concept this from a young age (I definitely was). We’re taught that there is always someone else who has it worse than you do, and because of that you should be grateful for what you do have. The idea is that it gives you a sense of perspective, which is a good thing… just not when you do it in the form of comparison. This sentiment conveys two harmful lines of thinking.
1 – Others’ bad situations are being used to make me feel better about my situation.
Other people are not suffering so you can feel better about yourself. The worst possible scenario/situation you can imagine for yourself is likely a reality for someone else. Thought patterns such as “Well at least I’m not _______” encourages distancing yourself from the situation and discourages practicing compassion for that struggling person.
If you want to put your situation into perspective, focus on what you do have in fact-based statements. This shifts the focus to the good that’s already in your life. Here’s some examples:
- I am grateful that I have a partner who appreciates me and accepts me as I am.
- I am grateful that I am able to afford all three meals.
- I am grateful that I have an income.
2 – My pain/suffering is unimportant/invalid because other people have it worse.
Your emotions are valid simply because you are experiencing them. Repeat that over and over until you believe it. No one can ever take that away from you. Whatever you are feeling or thinking is valid, even if you think you’re being silly or overemotional.
Enjoy the small moments in life.
More than likely, you have some form of good happening in your life. Cuddling your pet, conversations with a funny coworker, eating your favorite meal, sleeping in an extra hour… allow yourself to fully acknowledge and take in those moments.
It may seem ridiculous at first, but the small moments in life are important! Personally, I’m incredibly grateful for my Sunday afternoons when I can work on blog posts in bed with a scented candle burning and my cat curled up next to me. It’s little moments such as those that keep me grounded when I know Monday is right around the corner.
Acknowledge your unhappiness and the reasons behind it.
A lot of people have tendencies towards pushing their unpleasant emotions aside, but doing that continuously will eat at you. Nothing good will come out of refusing to acknowledge and experience all your emotions. Allowing yourself to feel and subsequently process your emotions will allow you to work through anything you’re experiencing. It isn’t a sign of weakness or failure to explore your emotions… it’s absolutely crucial in order to grow!
If you’re feeling lost and confused, try asking yourself some deep questions to see if there’s anything you can change about your current situation.
Try keeping a gratitude journal.
Keep track of the things you’re grateful for. Write them in an easily accessible place so you can reference them whenever you’re feeling upset. Once you’re comfortable with that, you can take it one step farther by challenging yourself to practice gratitude in your daily life. If you make a habit of practicing gratitude even when things are going well, it will be easier to do so when everything falls apart.
I know that practicing gratitude can be difficult, especially if it seems like life is falling apart around you. Do the best you can with it, and allow yourself some time.
Do you struggle with practicing gratitude?
Until next time,
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