Most of us have experienced the magnified goodness we feel when life is going well. An example of holding onto that magnified goodness can be called Gratitude. Gratitude allows us to be present to celebrating the moment and greatly increases our personal joy in life. But what happens to that heightened feeling when life doesn’t feel as easy? In the midst of a pandemic, a whirlpool of ups and downs, then is the question of how we can possibly feel grateful under such dire circumstances? Should we seek out the little things that bring us joy? How can we achieve this? Are our minds powerful enough to reject the maelstrom that has gripped our worlds? Our minds may rent out an overwhelming occupancy to unwanted visitors when the going gets tough. Each person has some form of internal dialogue that can greatly influence how we end up feeling. Our internal voice can be kind or unkind. It can be harsh or calm. We can also check in with ourselves internally and note how we are acting and be conscious of being kinder to ourselves. In turn, gratitude can be considered a form of that kindness.
There are a multitude of ways we can show gratitude. Through our actions, towards people and ourselves, our words and our thoughts. Maybe it is for the homemade hot coffee or tea that started your morning on the right track. Or perhaps a treat you are able to give to yourself. Sit quietly by a window and listen to the calmness of the trees in the early morning. A breath of fresh air is something to have gratitude for as well. There is also something to be said for a hot bath or shower and the comforting embodiment of a clean towel. It has been a long time since some of us have been able to be present to the immediate joys around us and appreciate the ‘little’ things. Additionally, some other examples can be the ability to physically embrace our loved ones, and have gratitude for advanced technology that allows us to see those shiny faces we love with even more joy. If you are still gainfully employed, consider thanking someone at work who has taught you something useful during this challenging time.You can focus on being present in the moment which can be a gift.
Robert A. Emmons, Ph.D., is the world’s leading scientific expert on gratitude. He is a professor of psychology at the University of California, and the founding editor-in-chief of The Journal of Positive Psychology. He writes, “not only will a grateful attitude help—it is essential. In fact, it is precisely under crisis conditions when we have the most to gain by a grateful perspective on life. In the face of demoralization, gratitude has the power to energize. In the face of brokenness, gratitude has the power to heal. In the face of despair, gratitude has the power to bring hope. In other words, gratitude can help us cope with hard times.”
If you are distressed by a triggering memory or an unpleasant experience past or present, you might consider trying to reframe how you think about it. This can be called the “Language of Gratitude.” The unpleasant experiences in our lives don’t have to be of the traumatic variety in order for us to gratefully benefit from them. We can approach things with curiosity versus judgment. Whether it is a large or small event, here are some additional questions to ask yourself recommended by Dr. Emmons:
Wishing everyone a happy and healthy holiday and the ability to experience gratefulness and GRATITUDE!