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how to be grateful (when everything sucks)

how to be grateful (when everything sucks)

A few months ago I wrote a post about gratitude and how I am working every day to have an attitude where being grateful is a daily thing. Let’s be real though, being grateful is difficult along with being a place we don’t always arrive at easily. No one wakes up one day and is just filled with gratitude all the time.

Being grateful can often take work and intention.

When I wrote that post on gratitude I was in a tough spot. I had just had my 2nd inpatient Ketamine Infusion and spent the next 3 weeks after being discharged feeling AWFUL-daily headaches, more CRPS pain, nausea, joint pain a.k.a. “the works”. No one could explain why I felt so crummy and I had no option or cure except to just keep trudging through each day until whatever post-ketamine effects faded. Some days I was really down, I had had a great first infusion and only was in a flare up afterwards for 9 days so what in the world was my body’s problem?!

Some days though I had to dig deep and remind myself that I had to find gratitude each day if I wanted to not lose sight of the bigger picture.

The issue is how do you get started? How do you find those nuggets of hope and reminders of how lucky you are when your head is “stuck in the muck” of hard days and harder nights?

Write it down.

When I first lost my ability to walk and was bed bound for over a month I was in a DARK place. I had very little human contact besides the trips to my dr where Sean would literally carry me to the car and I would ride laid out across the backseat with tears streaming down my face. I lay alone in our bedroom in excruciating pain (I was not taking any opiates at this point) and some nights I wondered if I had enough sleeping pills to just be done with everything.

Things were pretty bad.

I confessed that I was REALLY struggling to my good friend Lila and she said “Do a gratitude journal, dude”. After getting this advice from two other people, I knew I needed to.

Grab a blank journal and set aside a few minutes each night to write down 5 things you are grateful for.

Some days this may be easier than others. Sometimes I would have a TERRIBLE day and when I got to writing down my gratitude list that night, I would still be able to name 5 things that I was grateful for. Doing that could help me reframe the whole day AND get my head in a better place for the day ahead. Some days I could find 5 things but I would still feel blue afterwards. More often than not though, searching my brain for 5 things was just the thing I needed to get my head and heart in a better place.

You will find that the more consistently you do it, that it will be easier during the day to find things to be grateful for and you may also find that even when stuff is hard, you can pull yourself up by your metaphorical boot straps more quickly because of your ability to recognize the positive things in your life.

Get back to basics.

No matter how bad things I have gotten for me, there are very basic things that I have that I know other people aren’t guaranteed.

I have always had a home to live in, a bed to sleep in, clean water to drink/bathe in, a wonderful support system, and the ability to get medical attention. Not all people on this planet have these things. Not having just ONE of those things can make life INCREDIBLY more difficult not to mention not having several or all of those things.

Yes things in life can be hard but I can always remind myself when Im having a terrible pain day or feeling sad that my life is so different that I have MANY basic but important blessings in my life. When I remind myself of those things, its so much easier to put whatever is making me sad or upset in a new perspective or make me feel like I am in a much better place than I originally thought.

A great way to take this further is to volunteer.

Being face to face with people who may be lonely, struggling, or in need of help is a wonderful way to recognize the good things in your life AND more importantly, give back to your community. You may even make some new friends!

Look for the silver lining.

When things are dark it is SO hard to see the light, it can feel like your vision is clouded or that someone turned a light off inside your heart. It’s easy to just feel like everything is bad and sometimes everything can seem really really  bad. I have found though, that if I can find a time where I can sit with myself and really THINK about the silver linings, I can find them.

I can look at other bad times in my life and see what lessons I gained and remind myself that one day I will look back on THIS time and name off things I learned or ways that I left that situation a better person. The silver lining may not be obvious to me in that moment in time but I do believe we each can dig deep and consider how any crummy situation may teach us a lesson on how we treat the world (and ourselves) and how the world treats us in return.

I am always grateful for any lesson life shows me.

I have come to understand that any hard time in my life is a chance to grow. Even when I don’t want to grow, I understand that this is my time, so I just surrender to what’s going on and see where it takes me.

It can’t rain forever.

This is a quote that Sean and I began using in 2012 when our lives completely changed within a few months between his mom suddenly passing away and me getting sick all within 3 months.

I found a quote one day laying in bed that said “be strong now, because things will get better, it might be stormy now, but it can’t rain forever.” This became our motto and whenever something was tough or one of us was scared or upset we would remind each other “it can’t rain forever”. The more we have said it and the more I have seen that our hard times ebb and flow, I have found that I can have gratitude that most hard times in my life will one day change and things won’t be quite so heartbreaking. I am so grateful that as hard as life can be, it can also change into something better in time.

Obviously this equation doesn’t always happen the way we want. I have been sick almost 5 years and it’s really really hard. Some days I feel like I will NEVER EVER get better. The truth is I might not but I have been practicing gratitude long enough that I know that if I don’t get better, I will be ok because I have survived every other hard time life has thrown at me.

I am abundantly grateful for this.

Tomorrow is a new day.

I am going to be honest and say that some days gratitude just may not happen.

You might be having a REALLY bad day. You might have lost someone through death, a breakup, or a fight. You might be put in a scary position like losing your job or losing your home. You or someone you love might be really sick.

Those days finding gratitude may be REALLY difficult.

I believe that on days like this, you may just have to shrug and say “Ok today is a really bad day and I don’t know how to be grateful right now”.

That’s ok.

None of us are perfect and being grateful is a process.

I’ve had plenty of days where I couldn’t find gratitude no matter how hard I tried. On those days I rest my head on my pillow at the end of the day and I know that tomorrow is a new day.

I’ll try again tomorrow.

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photo by jewel peach photography

What do you do to find gratitude in your day to day life?

xogen

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