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11 Simple Ways to Be Grateful Even When Life is Hard

by Growth-U

What You Appreciate, Appreciates

In Part One of this series, we discussed the many benefits to you –not anyone else–if you choose gratitude as your mindset.

The best way is choosing gratitude as a way to create the life you want rather than waiting for life to give you a reason to be grateful.

And just in case life is throwing you curveballs right now, here are 11 simple ways to be grateful that work anytime, anywhere.

1. Choose Gratitude Over Fear

What if you’re going through a really hard time in your life?

Perhaps you’re experiencing one of the 5 Major Fears: death, mutilation, loss of control, abandonment, or humiliation.

Maybe you’re feeling one of the subgroups like fear of failure, loss of love, confrontation, or bankruptcy.

No matter what, even in these difficult circumstances, there is always something you can be grateful for.

I’ve hit a lot of skepticism when I’ve shared this with some clients. Often the initial response has been, “You don’t understand, Doc. I’ve had a really hard life. Harder than most people!”

I can’t pretend to have experienced the level of trauma or adversity that some people have, so I will bow to the words of Dr. Viktor Frankl.

Dr. Viktor Frankl survived 4 Holocaust concentration camps in World War Two, living with constant degradation, starvation, the loss of all of his loved ones, and the constant threat of his own imminent death.

He literally had no control over what was done to his body or his life, and was treated like an animal, as were all of the holocaust victims.

Dr. Frankl suffered the nightmare of having all of his 5 major fears realized. He had every logical right to be bitter and angry, feeling victimized by life.

And yet he stated,

“Everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of the human freedoms–to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way.”

Viktor Frankl chose to be grateful that he was alive and looked at all of the good in the world around him rather than focusing on the bad. He chose to use his experience to help others rather than live the rest of his life as a victim. He chose to take response-ability for how he used the experience to shape the rest of his life.

2. Employ Your Super Abilities to Employ Gratitude in Your Life

You have 5 super abilities to help you feel grateful. These are vulnerability, responsibility, accountability, capability, and flexibility.

Vulnerability is choosing to feel grateful even when seemingly negative events are occurring because you don’t know what you don’t know. In other words, you are allowing for the possibility that everything is working out for you, even if you can’t see it at the moment.

Responsibility is knowing that no matter what adversity you’ve experienced or what curveball life is throwing at you right now, it is still your response-ability to choose how you’re going to react and what you’re going to make of your life going forward. You need to consciously choose to feel grateful often until it becomes a habit.

Accountability is knowing it is up to you to make a decision and take action, not someone else. It is up to you to choose gratitude rather than waiting to have something to feel grateful for.

Capability is actively appreciating your strength, skills, talents, and intelligence and knowing that there is much more than you even know you’re capable of. As Christopher Robin said to Winnie the Pooh, “You’re braver than you believe and stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think.”

Flexibility is going with the flow, understanding that your path may involve detours and challenges (and knowing that you have the capability to handle them all).

The 5 super abilities allow you to be grateful for life because the fun and fulfillment are in the journey, not the destination.

3. Use Humor to Ramp up Your Gratitude Game

It’s easier to be grateful when you’re enjoying yourself. The key is to know that life is about the journey, and that so-called obstacles are what make it fun.

Whoever heard of a video game with no challenges? No one would play them!

Treat life like a game and inject some playfulness, goofiness, singing, and dancing wherever you can. It’s about happily achieving rather than achieving to be happy.

At Growth-U, we call this serving life Funny Side Up!

4. Be Grateful and Dissatisfied to Take Your Life Game Up Another Notch

This might not make sense at first. Aren’t gratitude and satisfaction the same thing?

No. Gratitude does not equal satisfaction.

Gratitude is the essence of love, happiness, and abundance. However, you can feel satisfied (or content) with your place in life and still not be happy.

For instance, if you’re feeling dissatisfied and ungrateful in your life, you’re not happy. You want to change and yet you can’t see how that would look. You’re feeling victimized by life and you’re blaming outside circumstances and people.

Or, you’re satisfied and not grateful. You’re unhappy about your life, you’re not grateful and you’re not doing anything to change it. You’re stuck in a rut. This is the worst because you’re trapped in the need for certainty. For instance, you hate your job and it pays the bills, so you feel like you can’t make a change.

Or, you’re feeling satisfied and grateful. You may be very happy with your position in life. This may seem like a good way to be. However, there will be no growth. And growth is an essential emotional need. And if you don’t proactively grow, your unconscious mind will create ways for you to grow reactively, like creating an illness.

The best way is to be grateful and dissatisfied. You are celebrating all of the good things in life and yet choosing to not be content with the status quo. You’re constantly focused on growth and leveling up to the next level. Again, the key is to proactively seek to grow rather than doing it reactively.

5. Give with No Expectation of Anything in Return

All too often, you feel ungrateful because you don’t feel that others deserve your gratitude. After all, they haven’t kept up their end of the bargain by doing [insert activity or behavior here].

This is bartering. Not only is it a reactive way to think and appreciate, but it’s also a recipe for disaster since there is almost always someone who feels cheated.

If you are in bartering mode, turn the tables and start doing and acting first, without the expectation that someone else has to reciprocate for you to be happy and grateful.

Start showing your gratitude for every small thing you can, so that the other person feels appreciated.

6. Actively Appreciate Others

There’s an old phrase, “You catch more bees with honey than vinegar.”

Everyone wants and needs to feel appreciated. So, tell them as often as you can, whether it is verbally, by text or email or snail mail. Praise is truly king in building rapport.

Another very effective method is by gossiping — positively. When you tell a third party of your appreciation for someone, it is guaranteed to get back to your object of attention. And as a bonus, the third party will think even better of you. Try it!

The added bonus is that you will feel good by making them feel good. That is why you should actively appreciate someone even if they’re not around –or if they’re currently on your naughty list.

7. Make Gratitude Lists for People or Experiences

Abraham-Hicks recommends doing Rampages of Appreciation on everything and everyone you’re grateful for as the best way to ramp up your gratitude and happiness. Do this every morning and every evening to set the tone for each day.

To step it up a notch, do it as often as possible throughout your day, especially if things are starting to head south.

The next challenge? Make a list of everything you’re grateful for about someone in your life you’ve had issues with. Can only come up with one thing? Repeat that over and over and over.

What if you truly can’t think of even one thing to feel grateful about? Make it up. Tell a new story of what you’d like to see as if it has already happened.

8. Change Your Story, Change Your Life

There’s another old saying, “History is written by the victors”.

Choose to be the victor in your story, changing your mindset and focus to become the hero. You can do this for events in your life. You can even do it for your relationships.

Louis DiBianco has an amazing podcast series, entitled, “Change Your Story, Change Your Life.” In his series description, he notes that the stories you tell yourself will determine the quality of your life. By changing your story, you can overcome great challenges, reinvent yourself, achieve fulfillment and prosperity, and become your own hero.

For example, you can choose to be grateful for any situation or person, even if it is in knowing that you have been provided wonderful learning opportunities. Again, it’s up to you to choose your focus.

9. Make the Laws of Focus Work for You

As I reviewed in Part One, The Four Laws of Focus state that what you focus on you find and grows until it becomes your perceived reality and then your identity.

Like the Force in Star Wars, the Laws of Focus are neither good nor bad. It’s how you use them. And, even if you’re not consciously putting them to work for you, they’re still giving you what you focus on.

The great news is that you can only focus on one thing at a time. Once you make the choice to focus on everything you’re grateful for as often as you can and changing the story as needed, you are switching the momentum of the force from negativity to positivity.

Slowly, you’ll see the results of gratitude and positivity showing up in your life. I know, I know, you’d rather it happened NOW.

But as Abraham-Hicks says, if you have a train going in one direction at a hundred miles per hour, you don’t really want it to suddenly stop and reverse in the opposite direction. It’s hard on the contents of the train!

10. Float on Like a Submarine

You’ve likely been taught that the responsible and intelligent way to handle problems is to give them your undivided attention until they’re solved. The primal instinct is that you need to wrestle that saber-toothed tiger to the ground or keep running until it can no longer catch you.

The challenge with this style of problem management is that your issues take over your whole life. If one thing is in crisis, you devote your whole energy and focus to it.

For example, if a loved one is sick, you don’t exercise, eat right or work. It shows you care. Or does it? In your devotion to this one issue, the rest of your life can suffer and sink you.

It is better to be like a submarine.

A submarine has watertight hatches between compartments. Therefore, if the sub suffers damage and starts to flood, those hatches can be shut to contain the damage and keep the rest of the submarine dry and seaworthy.

It means that if things are rough at work, leave your work problems at work rather than bringing them home. If you’re upset with one person, don’t yell at others. How can you put this into practice in real life?

Practice gratitude for all of the things going well in your life, and you’ll notice that your troubles don’t seem so overwhelming.

11. Treat Life Like a Basketball Game

Despite your best efforts, there are going to be times when you fail or experience adversity.

Be grateful for these times, for what they teach you, and for the opportunity to rebound even higher than you were before. In fact, it is better to fail forward and quickly so that you can rebound even more powerfully and quickly.

Think of a baby learning to walk. He doesn’t just fall and say to himself, “Oh well, I tried. I guess I’m just not meant to walk.” Nope.

He falls, gets back up, makes a correction and sets out again. He repeats this over and over, getting better and better until he is able to walk all by himself.

Sometimes, so-called problems are there to create the opportunity to rebound. Going back to that baby, he would never learn to walk if he didn’t feel limited by having to be carried everywhere!

Therefore, choose to be grateful for your perceived failures and adversity. The more you look forward to failing forward, the more you can treat it like a game. And eventually, you will barely notice the falls and rebounds because you’ll be so focused on moving forward in your chosen direction — like dribbling a basketball from one end of a court to the other.

What You Appreciate, Appreciates

You now have a choice. You can simply react to life and wait for moments which make you grateful. Or you can invest in your life and choose to be grateful for every experience, even the so-called failures and adversity. Which do you choose?