It’s easy to feel grateful when things are going well. In fact, we often take those good days for granted! It is so much more difficult to dig deep and be thankful during a time when it feels like we have nothing or have lost almost everything.
The good news is that, if you are reading this, you still have a chance to live a full life. You can find a sliver of hope shining through the dark clouds and Thanksgiving is as good a time as any (if not better) to chart your new course. Naturally, you may feel overwhelmed so here are some suggestions to help you get started.
Find a Silver Lining
This is a tough one. When times are challenging, well-meaning friends may say “everything happens for a reason” and it’s the last thing you want to hear. While it’s not necessary to agree with them, it is possible to look at the situation and focus on what you’ve learned or gained from it all.
Maybe you met new people. Maybe you realize that we should cherish every moment with loved ones. It may be hidden down deep and it might be painful to consider that something good could come from your suffering but there is often a shred of positivity that can be gained from a situation.
Do a Gratitude Inventory
It’s not enough to mentally mull things over. You must actually pick up a pen and paper and commit to spending no less than 10 minutes focusing on identifying the good things that exist in your life, both past and present (future is a bonus!). It’s normal to let all of the negativity drown out the positives but this will help give you a reminder.
Once you’ve done this, continue with some “maintenance” work. Make it a habit to add to the journal every night before going to bed. Think about your day and focus on what went right instead of what went wrong. In time, you will notice a shift in how you perceive the world around you.
It can be hard to find the motivation, especially if you feel like life has beaten you down, but you can commit to creating your own happiness. An article recently pointed to the scientific evidence that happiness is a choice. We cannot change certain things but we are in charge of our own attitudes. Some suggestions for choosing happiness include practicing mindfulness and meditation, focusing on compassion and refusing to be shaken by the small stuff.
It may be easier said than done but it is possible to find a rainbow after a heavy storm. Thanksgiving is a tough holiday for many but, by shifting your energy to focus on the positive, you may recapture the essence of what this time of year is truly about.