Even in tough times there’s plenty to be grateful for, including the challenges themselves.
It’s Thanksgiving today. And for many people, the holidays will feel different. The pandemic continues to keep us separated. Maybe you’re not traveling to your family. You might be alone.
And this year… well, it’s been a rough year.
So maybe you are struggling to feel gratitude. If you are, know that that’s ok.
While it’s true that feeling grateful can shift your mood and your outlook, forcing yourself to feel grateful will not work.
I have had a daily gratitude practice for almost 7 years, and I’ve had times when I could identify reasons to be grateful but I didn’t feel grateful. And then I felt worse because I berated myself for not feeling grateful.
So by all means, make a list of things you can be grateful for. Even in tough times there are always things:
If you’re reading this, you can see. If someone is reading it to you, you can hear. You’re alive. You’re breathing — maybe even without thinking about it. So many reasons.
A few years ago I was working with a client who was going through a particularly rough patch. He just couldn’t see reasons to be grateful.
I shared with him that when I was going through some of my lowest lows, I’d walk down the street and notice the homeless people. It reminded me that I had a safe place to sleep. Seeing a man with no legs reminded me to be grateful for my legs.
Sometimes you need to see how much worse it could be to realize all you’re taking for granted and all you can be grateful for.
That shift can be revelatory.
But there’s an even more profound shift I discovered in some of my hardest moments:
It’s a shift from being grateful in tough times to being grateful for tough times.
You can be grateful for the tough times themselves.
The hard moments in life are the moments they define us to ourselves. They help us clarify our values and our desires and reassess our priorities. When we are going through tough times we often find out who truly has our back. Challenges force us to adapt, pivot, and innovate.
And they are often empathy building experiences, helping us see the issues that others face, which perhaps were out of our awareness.
When we know how to ride the waves, tough times are incredible opportunities for growth, deeper connection, and recalibrating.
That’s something to be grateful for.