I have a friend who just this week had her dishwasher break and then lost power to her home for two days, all while her in-laws were visiting.
Sometimes it takes so much energy and focus just to make it to the end of the day. Yet, here we are stuck in a month-long gratitude fest.
We scroll through our Facebook feed and read sappy gratitude posts. Instagram is plastered with pictures of things for which to be grateful. I admit it, I am actually one of those people posting sappy updates. I’m even encouraging others to do the same. But just because I know having a grateful attitude is good for us, doesn’t mean I think it’s easy.
Sometimes being grateful is down right hard. So what do we do when all we see around us are the sour moments, sticky messes and near disasters?
Last week I was doing some deep cleaning and noticed mold and water damage on my ceiling that happened to be directly below my master shower. It doesn’t take an investigative team to tell me I’ll have to rip out my shower and fix the subfloor — in the middle of winter, during the holidays.
For days I dwelt on the moldy ceiling, imagining my master shower crashing through to the family room. (If that actually happened would my homeowner’s insurance actually kick in?). Gratitude was far from my mind.
I’ve realized there are a few things we can do to discover a sense of gratitude when none exists.
Force yourself to be grateful
Before the mold incident, I had already begun promoting a month of gratitude. I was now obligated to be grateful every day. Dang.
Often it took until the end of the evening for me to snap a picture of something I was grateful for and upload it to Instagram. But I did it. And as I forced myself to notice the things for which I was grateful, I realized my bad situation could be worse.
Dr. Henry Cloud in his book “The Law of Happiness” writes, “When we give thanks, our chemistry changes in a positive way from when we are envious or resentful.”
So force yourself to actually make a list of the things for which you are thankful. Whether you like it or not, you’ll see things in a better light.
Serve someone else
A lack of gratitude stems from a feeling of self-pity. When we take time to step outside ourselves and serve others, we begin to forget our own problems and even realize our trials could be worse.
Volunteering our time to serve others is also known to lower stress and increase happiness. In his book “Standing for Something: 10 Neglected Virtues That Will Heal Our Hearts and Homes,” President Gordon B. Hinckley, the 15th president of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, teaches: “The best antidote I know for worry is work. The best cure for weariness is the challenge of helping someone who is even more tired. One of the great ironies of life is this: He or she who serves almost always benefits more than he or she who is served.”
I’ll never forgot a care package my mother sent me when I was away at college. The package included all the supplies I needed to make cupcakes. Of course I made them and shared them with all the girls in my apartment.
Later, when I asked my mother why she sent such a package, she told me during our last conversation I sounded sad and sorry for myself. She thought the simple act of sharing cupcakes with others could help me realign my focus.
She was right.
This article was originally published on KSL.com
Stock photo is from freedigitalphotos.net