Finding gratitude in the unexpected
I've been thinking a lot about gratitude lately, especially in situations or circumstances that don't seem all that great at first glance. It's a bit of a paradox, isn't it? Finding gratitude in things we don't particularly like. However, that's exactly why a daily gratitude practice is so powerful. It's not about being thankful for the good, it's also about looking for the positive within the negative.
Twice a month I volunteer in our kids ministry program at my church, and the month of November the theme is having an "Attitude of Gratitude." This past Sunday, I had the kids come up with examples of things they don't like, and then immediately asked them if they could think of a reason why they ought to be grateful for them. Homework, laundry, eating veggies and even their siblings (lol) were some of the examples mentioned - but just as quickly as they raised their hand to share the things they disliked, they were also quick to think of a reason why they ought to be grateful them as well. (I'm sure their siblings were thankful for that quick turn around time, too;))
As adults, our issues tend to get a little more serious than "eating veggies," but it's still not impossible to find gratitude. Sometimes, the most challenging moments, or even things we dislike doing, have hidden silver linings. So, here are a few strategies that might help you in cultivating a sense of gratitude even when it's hard to find:
Shift Your Perspective: It's amazing how changing our viewpoint can alter how we perceive things. Try to look at the situation from a different angle. Sometimes, there's a lesson to be learned or a new opportunity that arises from what seems unfavorable.
Embrace the Challenge: Rather than resenting it, try to see it as a challenge. Challenges can be great teachers and overcoming them often brings a sense of accomplishment. Think of them as a lessons and chance to grow and become more resilient.
Practice Mindfulness: Being mindful helps us to appreciate the present moment, regardless of the circumstances. It can be challenging, but it's about finding small things to be grateful for in the present moment.
Express Gratitude Daily: Even in the midst of difficulties, finding three things each day to be grateful for can gradually reframe your perspective. If you get in the habit of looking for the little things, you will automatically find joy in the little things, too.
Remember, it's okay if this doesn’t come naturally right away. It's a practice, and it takes time. But once we start seeing the world through a lens of gratitude, even the things we don’t like tend to not weigh as much as they used to. Lastly, if you can't find one thing to be grateful for, just be thankful for your breath in that moment. And, remember that this too shall pass.
If you have any strategies or thoughts on this topic, I'd love to hear about them:)