3 Tips and 3 Questions to Ask Yourself to Increase Gratitude
Ever had someone tell you to cheer up, it’s not that bad? Or tell you so many other people have it worse, you should be happy/grateful?
We all have challenges in life, whether they are big or small, the obstacles in our life can seem impossible and being told to cheer up or that someone has it worse doesn’t help.
It doesn’t matter if others think they are small, it’s about how it feels and is for you, not them.
This article is not about positive vibes only or how to be happy and positive all the time. Gratitude helps but it doesn’t mean you need to be happy happy positive all the way.
I’ll share my experience with numerous obstacles and how I used gratitude and tips to apply it in difficult circumstances. It’s ok to feel all the feelings you do and process it all your own way.
I have faced numerous obstacles in my life including domestic violence, homelessness as a single mother during the divorce, robbery of everything including my underwear, paralysis, mental health issues, and multiple surgeries, all within a few years (2012 to 2015).
Later, bushfires, a double death in the family, locked down overseas, repatriated then 2 complicated pregnancies, postpartum depression and PTSD. 2020 to 2022 was interesting for us all.
Yet, I turned those obstacles into opportunities, founded a company, became an international keynote speaker, won multiple awards including 3 Plutus awards and was a finalist for Young Australian of the Year.
My obstacles turned my life around and one of the main reasons I was able to do that is gratitude and forgiveness.
Disclaimer: before we get into it, I have had mental health issues in my life and take mental health seriously. If you are depressed, have anxiety or feel you need help with your mental health, an attitude of gratitude is great BUT please see a doctor, speak to someone, use support lines if you need such as LifeLine on 13 11 14.
I’ve had psychologists assist me with various issues during this time. There is no shame in getting help if you need it. Gratitude was one of the things that helped me a lot but professional help is necessary for many.
How can you be Grateful When Everything is Falling Apart?
Learning to be grateful in dire situations takes practice and it’s ok to cry, get angry and feel any emotion first. You don’t need to be grateful and forgiving all the time as this feels false.
The more you practice and apply it though, the more genuine it will feel and easier it will become.
Back in 2012, after leaving my abusive husband I was robbed of everything including my underwear. It was devastating.
I felt violated, alone and scared.
That night, before the police arrived I sat down and wrote why I could be grateful and looked for opportunities in the situation.
My list included things such as we weren’t home, I have insurance, it was just stuff that was taken and I was grateful to have a clean slate as everything I owned which was stolen had connections to my marriage. Now I had nothing.
It didn’t change the situation but it changed how I felt.
If you are facing a bad situation, ask yourself:
– What are the positives that can come from this?
– What lesson do I need to learn from this?
– How can I turn this into an opportunity?
It didn’t change the fact I had been robbed. It did change how I felt about the situation.
By choosing to be grateful and look for positives I was taking control of the situation and owning my experience instead of letting it control me.
How do you get into the Habit of Practising Gratitude?
Being grateful, and looking for opportunities and lessons in whatever situation you are facing is not going to be an automatic reaction overnight, it takes practice.
Feel your emotions, allow yourself to process whatever you need to process then try these tips to get into the habit of gratitude.
1. Keep a Gratitude Diary
Make a daily habit of writing down at least 3 things you are grateful for every day. Get a journal and write in it 3 things you are grateful for that day.
This is part of my morning and evening routines to keep my mind in a more grateful state. When you think about it, there are many things to be grateful for, some days it is harder than others to see that though.
2. Ask Yourself Questions
Use the questions already mentioned:
What are the positives that can come from this?
What lesson do I need to learn from this?
How can I turn this into an opportunity?
Have them readily available in a note on your phone to refer to when needed and inside a notebook or journal to use on days you are struggling. When something is happening and you need help, look at it, ask yourself those questions and write down your answers.
3. Have Positive Discussions
When you talk with other people, instead of listing out all your problems or complaining about everything, discuss the good things in your life or if you do need to talk to someone about your problems, look for solutions as you do it.
We all need someone to talk to and I am not saying don’t ask for help. Talk with whoever you need, look for solutions or ask them to help you look for solutions then take action.
Don’t dwell on the negative if you can help it. For some of us, me included, we need to talk through it all to process it. Try to do that effectively and use it to process and move on rather than dwell or fester on it.
Studies have shown the positive effects gratitude has on our health, career, relationships and life overall. In my life, when I have been consciously practising an attitude of gratitude, I have found it easier to find solutions to my problems, my personal life improves, I secure higher paying clients and get better work opportunities and more.
My brain actively seeks out the solutions I want to the problems I face instead of focusing on the problem. As a result, my life improves.
When I am not focused on gratitude and I allow negative thoughts to consume me, I spiral down, things in my life don’t go the way I want/need and I find it difficult to dig myself out of the dark hole I end up in.
Do you practice an attitude of gratitude? What are you grateful for today?
*An attitude of gratitude should not be used to replace medication, your GP or a specialist. If you feel the need to talk to someone or get further help make sure you reach out to places such as LifeLine (13 11 14) or BeyondBlue (1300 224 636) or make an appointment to see your doctor and get whatever help you need.