Do you have trouble finding things to be grateful for when life is hard?
Sometimes things can be so hard for us, or we get so caught up in our “problems”, that we don’t see how blessed we are, or we “forget” all the amazing opportunities we have to feel gratitude every day.
Sometimes, especially in western countries, we focus so much on our ‘problems’, that we lose perspective and forget to appreciate, or simply see, all the other things that we have going for us.
Start imagining your life without those things, or better yet, try to temporarily remove those things from your life, and you will (hopefully) quickly see how much they make your life better.
The things that you don’t miss, btw, now might be a good opportunity to get rid of them once and for all?
Related post: All that stuff you own is ruining your life. Here’s how.
Being content (and thus, grateful) with your life is not about being ‘happy’ all the time while everything else is going smoothly. That doesn’t exist, by the way. And being content is certainly not about pretending to not see problems when they arise.
In think being content is about constantly and consciously shifting our focus and (compulsive) thoughts away from the negative to the positive in every situation, good or bad.
This DOES NOT mean that you ignore problems; on the contrary!!
But anyway. I believe that’s how you become a more grateful person, and ultimately, a happier person.
It may seem forced or unnatural at first, but just like everything in life, with some effort and persistence, it will become more natural.
If you struggle to find things to be grateful for or believe you have nothing in your life worth being grateful for, here is a list that will hopefully help you see things differently and open your eyes to the abundance you already have in your life.
You have family
I don’t necessarily mean a spouse and children, and they don’t have to be in the same geographical space as you. But is there somewhere someone related to you by blood who care about you? A mother, an aunt, a distant cousin?
Did you know that most European Jews during World War II lost their entire family? Many Haitians did too during the January 12th, 2010 earthquake with a reported 200 000 deaths. People lose their entire family every day in a split second, due to fires, car accidents, or other tragedies.
Do you know someone who has been an orphan since childhood? Really, take a moment to think about it, how they feel, how it’s affected their life. Imagine waking up one day having lost all at once your parents, siblings, aunts, uncles, husband or wife, and children.
Being completely and utterly alone.
There is a big difference between not wanting to go to speak to your family, and having no family to turn to, ever. One is a choice; the other is not.
Far or close, do you have family members that are alive? That is a blessing and one more thing you could be grateful for. Do they care about you and you about them? That’s an even bigger blessing.
And if for any reason you are not on speaking terms or don’t get along, is there something you can do about it? If yes, do it. Don’t wait. Life is fragile and nothing lasts forever.
You sleep and wake up in a safe place
Do you know what it’s like to fear for your life every time you go to sleep? Or to have to find a different place to sleep every night because you don’t have a home? If you don’t, then you are lucky.
Unfortunately, that is a reality for a lot of people, way more than you think. It happens even in your own ‘rich’ western country.
Right now, in the US, more than half a million people are experiencing homelessness and this number doesn’t even take into account the almost 5 million people who don’t have a home and live in shared spaces with other families and or friends.
And did you know that a quarter of all refugees and migrants arriving in Europe are children? At the time of writing this, 2.6 million refugees are living in camps around the world and many more living in informal settlements. And that’s only one-tenth (1/10th) of the total refugee population (!)
These people have been displaced because of famine or war. The only difference between them and you is that there is no war where you live, yet. Or most likely your parents or your grand-parents left their home country so that you could have the life you have now.
When you go to bed at night, take just 30 seconds to reflect on this reality. You will feel richer and more grateful.
You have food in your fridge
About 150 years ago, a mold called potato blight caused a serious disease affecting potatoes and resulted in a famine causing the death of over 1 million people (and the exile of another million) in Ireland?
Life as we know it is beautiful and fragile and we often forget to appreciate just how beautiful it is, and how lucky we are.
Seriously, look at all that food. Give thanks to the universe. Stop and say it: ‘thank you Universe (or God, Allah, Mom, Mr. Farmer, literally whomever you want to give thanks to) for this food. I am grateful for it’.
The more you get into the habit of giving thanks for the things you have, the more you will notice what you have, and the more you will feel rich and blessed.
You have running water… and hot water
If you don’t have to walk for miles every day carrying a bucket to find water, then you are a lucky person. Even just having access to potable water is a luxury that so many people take for granted.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO) right now there are 4.2 billion people who do not have access to safely managed sanitation services. That is safe access to toilets.
If that is too ‘distant’ from your reality, think of that: have you ever gone camping and had to do a number 2? Or have you ever had to deal with a water outage in your neighborhood? Ok, now imagine this, every day. It sucks, doesn’t it?
Take a moment every day to appreciate what you have and take for granted. If all you have to do when you want to pee or shower is step into your bathroom and do the deed, then you are better off than half of the world’s population.
Running water is not a “due”, it’s a luxury because most people don’t have that. So every morning when that hot water comes out flowing just for you, remember to smile and be grateful!
You are in relatively good health
Take a moment to remember what it feels like when you are sick or when your body is in pain. You don’t need to think about something ‘dramatic’; just think about the last time you had bronchitis, or a sore throat that stopped you from eating, or a toothache. Can you remember how miserable you felt then? Even simple constipation, after a few days, is literal torture.
Are you not in physical pain at the moment? That’s awesome news! Take a moment to celebrate that, to feel your limbs, your fingers, and toes, and move them around with glee.
Consciously bring your attention to what it’s like when you are in pain or take a moment to think of all the people who are suffering right now, or who have to see a loved one suffer.
Give thanks to the universe for having a body that works and carries you effortlessly where ever you want. Perhaps it will motivate you to take better care of it.
You have yourself
I bet you didn’t expect that one? But I’m serious! When we feel like we have nothing to be grateful for, we often forget that we have ourselves.
We are blessed with a body, a mind, and a heart that can do wonders. We can learn, love, laugh, understand, create, adapt, transform, influence… And have capabilities beyond what most of us acknowledge. Our simple presence here on this earth is a miracle! So when you feel like you have nothing, remember that you have you and you, is a miracle.
Our body, mind, and soul are amazing and when we value and appreciate them, we are more likely to nurture them and use them to their full potential.
If you need more help seeing the blessings in your life, I highly recommend volunteering a couple of hours to your local shelter or reading Rachel Mwanza’s story.
How about you, how do you manage to find gratitude daily?
*Please note that there are no affiliate links on these posts. The products I refer to or recommend, are simply ones I truly adore and use!