3 Reasons Why Expressing Gratitude in the Not-So-Good Times is Good For You

Sometimes gratitude is hard to find. Consider what’s happened in America and along our southern border in 2017:
  • Hurricane Maria in the Dominican Republic
  • Hurricane Irma in Florida
  • Hurricane Harvey in Texas
  • Earthquake in Mexico
  • Fires in Sonoma, CA
  • Shooting attack on lawmakers playing baseball in Washington DC
  • Vehicle attack in Charlottesville, VA
  • Shooting attack in church service in Antioch, TN
  • Sniper attack in Las Vegas
  • Vehicle attack in NYC
  • Shooting attack in church service in Sutherland Springs, Tx
Maybe you were not directly impacted by these events but were you touched by one of these problems?
  • Financial disaster
  • Relationship ending, divorce
  • Death in family or friendship
  • Suicide
  • Overdose
  • Loss of employment
  • Serious or terminal illness
  • Serious injury or impairment
I know what it’s like to go through hardship on a holiday. Twenty years ago on the eve of Thanksgiving my first marriage collapsed.  Major events or problems can have a serious negative impact on your life if you allow it. Hardship can rob you of happiness, or general contentment. It may lead you to worry excessively.  Or maybe it leaves you with a jaded your outlook on life. For some it causes depression. Relationships also suffer. An antidote to cope with hardship is expressing gratitude. Here are 3 reasons why expressing gratitude in not-so-good-times is good for you. [Tweet “An antidote to cope with hardship is expressing gratitude.”]
#1: Gratitude loosens the grip a problem has on your life
A major problem or catastrophe can get a firm hold on your life and occupy your thoughts incessantly. It can bleed into all areas of your life making everything difficult. Finding gratitude in tough times is not simple, it takes effort on your part, but when done it can loosen the grip a problem has on your life. “We loss our house and all our possessions. However, I am thankful we did not suffer loss of life. We have our family and we will rebuild on this land.” Expressing gratitude prevents tunnel vision from jading your perspective. You can see light at end of the tunnel. Renewed hope can shift the power your way and give you better control over the problem.
#2: Gratitude renews an appreciation for things you take for granted
If you live in America, consider yourself blessed in comparison to third world countries. We have a meltdown over poor internet connection while people in Venezuela wonder if they will have food today. I recently joined Charity Water and sponsor building fresh water wells in impoverished areas. One of the ways to combat the negativity that comes with major problems is to focus on the positive things in your life that you take for granted.
  • You’re divorced from your spouse but your kids remain in your life
  • You didn’t get a promotion but you still have a job
  • You’re health is good
  • You have a place to live and food to eat
  • You have a great family and friends
Gratitude for things we have makes the problem we’re going through less threatening.
#3: Gratitude presents opportunity for growth and a new perspective
Every problem we face presents an opportunity for growth. It is important that we adopt a learning mindset. There is a difference between “being thankful for a problem” vs “being thankful in a problem”. Nobody asks for problems. To be thankful for a problem sounds fake. Being thankful in a problem suggests that one’s attitude going through it is to find good in the not-so-good. It is learning about yourself, learning about others, and learning about life. Gratitude shifts focus from pain to a new perspective and clearer path for your life going forward.

Now it’s your turn

What is a not-so-good thing you are going through? Using the 3 reasons, how do you want to express gratitude this Thanksgiving holiday? Here are some ideas. Journal your reflections. Share it with family or friends on Thanksgiving Day. Or, leave a comment below.