One of the most common obstacles people encounter with their gratitude practice is the question of whether they are “doing it right or not.”
I have many friends and clients who have started a practice, bought a special journal, and intend to write 3-5 things every morning or evening that they are grateful for. So far, so good, right?
Then they come to me asking:
“I’m not sure if I really felt grateful.” Or,
“I felt happy with certain events of the day, but I didn’t feel a great sense of gratitude”
“I’m struggling to understand what I’m supposed to feel”
And similar statements…
It’s happened enough times that I thought I’d include a blog post about it to set the record straight.
Gratitude may seem like a simple enough emotion, but it’s actually a high-vibration feeling that not everyone can reach in seconds. Sometimes it’s because you’re trying too hard or overthinking it and sometimes it’s because you’re genuinely in a rough patch and feeling grateful just seems out of reach.
If the latter applies, let’s take a look at what you can do:
Let’s say you’re in the middle of a challenging time in your life or maybe you’re experiencing depression or suffering the effects of past trauma, even if you’re having a really bad day – gratitude isn’t always the easiest state to slip into in.
That’s completely normal.
If you’re in the middle of a divorce, or you’re late paying rent or your child is sick, maybe finding something to be grateful for isn’t really where you’re at. Maybe you’re pretty mad at the world and finding gratitude makes you want to throw up or scream or punch someone! Again, normal and depending on your circumstances or emotional and mental state, totally understandable.
I like to think of the practice of gratitude as a guiding light – maybe it’s really bad, a tiny flicker in the distance like a candlelight, but as long as you know it’s there it can still provide some comfort, and eventually bring you back on track. route and help you navigate back to yourself.
My advice to anyone who can’t find the feeling of gratitude is to either:
- Go Big
- Go Small
What do I say?
When I say “Go big” I mean find something universal and big to be grateful for. Take your perspective outside of your personal issues and think about how incredible it is that the sun rises every day. Be grateful for the Earth and how it continues to spin on its axis. Be grateful for the rain and the sunlight, for the day and the starry night, for the abundance of possibilities in the world. If you’re thinking about it, you might even consider being grateful for things you’ve done in your past, perhaps people you’ve met that changed the course of your life or countries and cities you’ve visited.
Think of the most beautiful places you’ve been and what you’ve seen there. If you need to, think of a photo or painting you’ve seen that you find beautiful and be grateful for it. What is your favorite piece of music?
Find gratitude for the fact that you exist and can hear it. Try to keep things big and non-specific until it makes you feel good.
When I say “Go small” I mean find something seemingly irrelevant and small in your day, or in your life that you can muster some gratitude for.
It could be the parking space you took that morning, or being on time when you thought you were late. It could be that someone held a door for you, or that you were offered a place on your journey and got to read the paper. Maybe you can feel grateful that your car started without a problem, or that you had a good hair day or that there was enough milk for your coffee at breakfast time.
When you start really young, you may not yet be cultivating a huge high vibration feeling within yourself, but you are training your mind to find a few positive moments or aspects of your life that make you feel better.
That’s the secret of gratitude after all – train your attention to look for what makes you feel happy, instead of drowning in negativity.
The secret is to keep going. You’ll train your mind to find things you’re grateful for throughout your day and before you know it, you’ll be jotting them down to write in your journal later!
As you stretch in your downward dog you will realize how grateful you are for the time to quietly practice yoga. As you breathe in the fresh smelling air after the rain, you feel grateful for the chance to be outside. You will continue to notice both big and small things that make you appreciative and grateful every day of your life.
Don’t give up on yourself or finding gratitude, under any circumstances.
It’s always there, waiting for you to really see it.