Experiencing gratitude even in tough times

It is mid-November and Thanksgiving is just around the corner. With the trials that 2020 has brought us so far, it has been a tough year – though, maybe we can still take a moment and find something to be grateful for. If you wish to welcome gratitude into your life, this article outlines three simple tips.

Some years ago, I was introduced to Thanksgiving by a dear friend (who is not with us anymore) and her husband. Holding my hands at the dinner table – yes, laden with turkey, cranberry sauce, mashed potatoes and pumpkin pie! – Kat and Mike gave a blessing on all we were grateful for.

It was a moment of great connection, of sharing, togetherness and deep gratitude.

Although I am not American (I do have beloved family and friends in the US), I’ve since made a promise to Kat to celebrate this tradition every year and to introduce gratitude as a way of being and seeing life – because how we talk to ourselves matters. It affects how we feel and drives our behaviour.

Fortunately, experiencing gratitude doesn’t have to be complicated. There are simple tools you can use to train your brain into a regular state of thankfulness.

Welcoming gratitude into your life

To get you started, here are three tips to easily welcome even more gratitude into your life:

1. The 10 finger rule
The first time I heard of this was in Arianna Huffington’s remarkable book, Thrive. It’s an easy one too: every night before you go to bed, count off 10 things that you are grateful for; e.g. having a great chat with a friend, getting a text from someone you love, enjoying a delicious dinner, you name it.

You may wonder: ‘But what about those tough days, when I don’t feel I have much to be grateful for?’

Then, I recommend you start with some basics: that you have food on the table, a roof over your head, for the people who love you… You’ll be surprised how this can open up the channel of blessings, especially when you most need them!

2. Just two words…
Each morning, think of the two words that are most important for that day.

Here’s an easy prompt: ‘Today I would like to feel (e.g. peaceful) and I will do this by a specific (e.g. action/goal/thought)’ – for instance, ‘just breathe’ each time I start to feel off-centre.

Too often we forget to give thanks for all we have accomplished! By being clear about what you want from the day and stating your parameters for achieving this, you’ll feel full of gratitude.

3. A nugget of wisdom
Author Shauna Niequist sums up the essence of gratitude with these words:

‘When life is sweet, say thank you and celebrate. And when life is bitter, say thank you and grow.’

And with that, I send you all much love and gratitude…

Experiencing gratitude doesn’t have to be complicated – train your brain into a state of thankfulness

What are you most grateful for? Share in the comments and let’s count our blessings together.

First published on Expat Nest.