We’re in the heart of the big month of gratitude.
While I am a devoted practitioner and firm believer in the power of gratitude I know there are times we just can’t muster it – no matter how hard we try. How do you get from being so heartbroken, beaten-down, pissed off, or disillusioned you can’t see straight to the magical manna of gratitude?
Let me tell you I’ve had my days of wondering exactly that.
First of all, not that you need it, but you have my full permission to be as sad, enraged, or filled with despair as you feel right this moment. It’s okay to not be a beacon of gratitude. Some days you have to just start where you are, no matter how messy.
Some days you just need to rant, cry or stare off into space.
Recently, I came through my own tough time. I was in tears pleading with the powers that Be to deliver me.
“I just can’t do it anymore.”
Did Grace come? Did it get easier? Actually no – it got significantly worse in ways I couldn’t have even imagined. My simple overwork and overwhelm segued into a full-blown medical crisis in my family. It broke my will and ability to resist.
When we’re in the thick of life we don’t always have the luxury of exquisite self-care. Sometimes we’re in the trenches and we have to go for a quick and dirty fix.
I used to spend years believing if I had just planned it better or had done a better job of keeping my well full I wouldn’t be in this painful place. I compared myself to others who seemed perpetually upbeat, grateful, and more on top of things, which left me feeling less than and bad about myself.
But I know we all go through those times in life when we face a season of painful, unexpected, or crazy $h!t. We strap in, we go for the ride and we do the best we can. There’s no shame or failure in that.
So here are some things I have found helpful to edge me closer to gratitude when I am up to my neck in the chaotic and crazy of life:
1. Get as much rest and healthy food as I possibly can.
If you’re well-resourced physically your attitude and perspective are always more positive.
2. Be honest with myself.
Acknowledging to ourselves we’re in a rough place and nowhere close to feeling grateful can begin to dissolve the painful feelings and allow for the possibility of gratitude showing up.
3. Share my messy feelings with my supports – my trusted friends, coach, partner or therapist.
With loving presence and support you can further release your tight and constricted emotions creating far more spaciousness within you.
And hearing an outside perspective from someone who cares can be invaluable in adjusting your own.
4. Get out of my own head and my own life if just for a while.
Connecting with others who are having their own challenges can be very helpful. But if you just don’t have it in you to be present or support another human being I strongly recommend one of my favorite ways to get out of myself: The Moth podcast. It’s a story telling podcast that will transport you out of your own story. I consistently find it connects me to my heart and perspective. A good book also works.
5. Get outside and walk on the earth.
Fresh air and the earth energy are both healing agents.
6. Humor, humor, humor.
Laughter really is the best medicine. Finding humor in the anguish and challenge of life lightens your mood and again provides perspective. Do you have a writer, or TV show or comedian that consistently gets you laughing?
Two of my favorite comedians that are sure-fire to get me laughing at the challenges in life are Tig Notaro & Jim Gaffigan. You can check them out on YouTube if you need a good laugh. Try Tig’s C-Diff Diet or Jim’s 4 Kids to hear great humor born of adversity.
As you take one or more of these steps you will gain more openness and perspective. Then you can begin to open to the power and possibility of gratitude. When you’re facing hardship opening to gratitude, even the smallest degree, allows you to move from receiving eye-droppers full of healing Grace to teaspoons of acceptance and ease and eventually to ladles full of Peace and appreciation.
In the meantime, be gentle with yourself. Resist any temptation to criticize yourself for not being able to summon gratitude and know it will come knocking at your door again.
With tender love,