How to Practice Gratitude When It Feels Impossible

How to Practice Gratitude When It Feels Impossible

If you've dabbled in the self-care space at all—and if you're reading this, we're going to guess you have—you know how important gratitude is. Gratitude has the power to literally rewire our brains, giving us the tools to see the world through a more positive lens.

In the same way we know we should meditate every day, we know we should practice gratitude on a regular basis. But it's not always easy, especially when it feels like there's not a lot to be thankful for. So how can you practice gratitude when it feels impossible? Start with these tips.

How to Practice Gratitude When It Feels Impossible

1. Tell someone in your life that you're having a hard time

If you tell someone in your life that you want to practice gratitude and need an accountability buddy, more likely than not they'll be happy to rise to the occasion. You can text each other something you're grateful for every day, and you can feel better knowing that this exercise isn't just benefitting you. It's benefitting them, too. The sad reality is that we often have an easier time doing things for others than we do ourselves, so knowing you're helping someone else by asking them to tell you what they're grateful for could be the exact motivation you need.

2. Remove yourself from your current environment

When you're in a rut and having a hard time finding things you're grateful for, sometimes you just need a little shake-up. This can take the form of a happy hour with a friend you haven't seen in a while, or an after-work walk. It can also take the form of a vacation, no matter how short. Sometimes, all you need to restore you ability to be grateful for something is a new environment—it helps you see the world from a different perspective. 

3. Immerse yourself in nature

There's nothing quite like the beauty of the natural world to remind you that there is so much to be thankful for. A short hike, or even a walk in a new place, can be enough to fill you with a sense of gratitude. We know from decades of research that nature has a positive impact on our wellbeing, and it will likely remind you of how much you have to be thankful for, too. 

4. Pay people compliments

It may not seem like the most obvious thing, but paying people compliments and saying "thank you" to them can fire up your own feelings of gratitude by getting you in the habit of regular appreciation. Telling someone at work that they did a great job on their presentation, or thanking your partner for taking care of the kids while you exercised, may help you notice other little things to be thankful for in your life. 

5.  Decorate your living space with little gratitude reminders

Sure, this one might sound a little annoying when you're having a tough time practicing gratitude, but hear us out. Placing little reminders around your home in the form of inspirational quotes, affirmations, or simply the word "thankful"—write it on your bathroom mirror if you'd like!—can be really powerful reminders that make their way into your subconscious and help you become more grateful over time.

6. Try practicing gratitude first thing in the morning

If you've ever had a hard time getting in the habit of regular exercise (haven't we all?) you've probably heard this tip: If you do something first thing in the morning, it's harder to talk yourself out of it. So for just one week, try this: Get up, brew yourself a cup of coffee (if you're a coffee drinker, that is!) and write down three thing you're grateful for in your journal. You may find that at this time of day, it's a lot easier to think of things you're grateful for—and as you see positive effects through the rest of your day, you'll be motivated to continue. 

7. Start very, very small

When we're having a hard time doing anything, it all starts to seem more manageable when we shrink our to-do lists. For example, imagine you want a new job—you may tell yourself you need to apply to 10 jobs every day, but the task feels so daunting that you end up not applying to any jobs at all. Telling yourself you'll apply to just one job a day, though, is more realistic. By the end of the week, you will have applied to seven jobs. And that's not nothing. Apply the same mentality to gratitude: Instead of telling yourself you'll write down 10 things you're grateful for every day, write down one thing. Sounds a little more doable, right? 

We know things have felt very tough in the world lately, and that it's not always easy to immerse yourself in a gratitude practice. But with the right strategy and an open mind, you'll be able to make it happen. 


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