Below is the podcast version of this article. The podcast explains things so much better than a blog post. I invite you to listen and also hear some examples and enjoy some laughs! You can subscribe to the Podcast by opening your favorite podcast app and typing “Balanced Working Moms” into the search. Enjoy!
Importance of Gratitude
We all know how important gratitude is. It’s the secret sauce behind everything.
It improves psychological health and well-being. Even physical health. The research is overwhelming. There are so many benefits to gratitude.
But seriously. We’re in the middle of a pandemic. And even if it’s not the middle of a pandemic, when life is hard, gratitude can feel impossible.
You’re exhausted. You’re stressed. And Grateful? Not so much.
But if you were feeling gratitude, genuine gratitude, life would be better.
But how do you get there when there are so many things to NOT be grateful for?
It’s Hard to Keep it Up in Tough Times
Whew. Things are tough in our household right now. After all, there’s a pandemic going on!
I have a gratitude journal that I’ve been keeping for years. It’s by Katie Daisy (pictured below).
Truthfully, I used to update it every few days. It was one of my nighttime routines.
Yeah. This healthy habit went out the door about 3 weeks into March.
To tell you the truth, I was too tired when I finally crawled into bed. And also, I wasn’t feeling a whole lot of gratitude.
Time to Change
I know I’m not alone. Times are rough.
But if you don’t feel gratitude, you’re in good company, my friend.
I’m right there with you. And so are many many others.
It’s hard to feel gratitude when you feel resentful, fear, depleted . . .
Example of the Power of Gratitude
My husband was putting one of my kids to bed a few weeks and you know this can be difficult. Bedtime is when all the ick from the day comes out……
He was having a particularly difficult time since my daughter had some heavy emotions.
So my husband asked her to name 5 things she was grateful for.
After she listed the things, she was like a different person. She became her sunny self again.
He said it was like a switch turned on for her. Her bubbly self came out as soon as she listed the things she was grateful for.
Create a Gratitude Jar
Below is a free pdf to create your own gratitude jar. I hope you enjoy this fun project. I like to do this with my kids. They have such a great time writing down what they’re grateful for and slipping it into the jar that we decorated as a family. For the password to the file, click here.
The Challenge of Gratitude
Positive Psychology wrote about a study that found that a regular practice of gratitude and/or positive visualization can lead to a higher quality of life.
But, the study also found that it can be difficult to motivate people to consistently practice gratitude.
So how can we make gratitude SO EASY for us to do that it’s not one more thing on our to-do list? So it comes naturally.
#1: Don’t Ignore the Difficult Feelings.
Life is hard right now for a lot of us. Incredibly hard.
Pretending it’s not hard will not be helpful, my friend.
That’s like putting a band-aid on bullet hole. Not going to help.
So instead, let yourself feel angry, annoyed, resentful, whatever negative emotion you feel. It’s important to feel your emotions so that you can let them go.
#2: Then Let the Gratitude to Creep In.
Once you accept the heavy emotions, you can then let the gratitude in. You don’t pretend that the hard stuff isn’t there. You accept the hard things and STILL let in the gratitude.
You don’t replace the hard feelings with gratitude since that won’t work. The gratitude won’t feel authentic if you pretend that the hard things aren’t there. Instead, you acknowledge the life is hard, but you can ALSO still feel grateful for things.
How do you accpet the feelings and still let the gratitude in?
I like to do this by using the words “Even though.”
So for example, let’s say I’m going through something rough.
I may say “Even though I haven’t had the house to myself in 8 months, I’m still grateful that my family is well.”
“Even though my house is a mess and the roof needs replacing, I’m grateful that I have a house that I have a family to make the mess.”
I learned how to do this powerful technique from a class I took on the “Emotional Freedom Technique.” (Also called EFT or tapping.)
Using the words “Even though…..” and then ending it with something positive is life-changing.
It’s such a relief to use these words.
And I think it works so well because you’re not pushing away the negative thoughts and bad feelings.
You’re not pretending to be grateful, even when you’re not.
Instead, you’re acknowledge the JUNK you’re going through, and then you’re ending with the gratitude.
Incorporating Gratitude into your life
So now you know how to ease into it, let’s talk about how to do it.
First, we talked in the beginning that we don’t have to make this into a big deal.
1. Think Grateful Thoughts – no pen necessary
You don’t need to do an official “gratitude journal.”
Next time you’re upset, just use the phrase, “‘Even though…..I’m still grateful”
You don’t have to write it down — I’m talking to my fellow perfectionists here! It’s okay to just think it.
2. Do a Gratitude Journal
If you LIKE to write, you could start a gratitude journal and fill it in whenever you want. You don’t have to be rigid and do it each and every night. Even a little gratitude helps!
Tip: Putting your journal on your nightstand will help you remember to use it!!
3. Do it with ALONG WITH Your Kids
Practicing gratitude with my kids is one of my favorite ways of incorporating gratitude into my life.
When I put my kids to sleep, I always ask them to list 5 things they’re grateful for. And when my child is done, I list 5 things, too.
It’s a beautiful nightly ritual that I’ve been doing for years.
4. Make a Game Out of It
Making a game out of gratitude is another way you can include your kids, too!
This is so much fun! I made this as a free project for you!!
- Decorate a mason jar with my free printable.
- Have each family member writes what they’re grateful for. You can do this during dinner time, bedtime, or whenever.
- Put all the notes in the jar and pull them out whenever you need a pick-me-up!
I love to gamify things that are healthy since it brings so much fun and enthusiasm to things we already need to do!!
Wishing you all the benefits that gratitude can bring, my friend.
Enjoy bringing it into your life!
With so much love,