how to feel grateful

When life looks bleak, it’s hard to figure out how to feel grateful for anything.

When you start looking into the whole Law of Attraction thing, one of the first things you come across is this concept of gratitude. Everywhere you look, someone is telling you that you need to have an “attitude of gratitude”, and that learning how to feel grateful is the key to having everything fall into place for you.

Acknowledging the good that you already have in your life is the foundation for all abundance. ~Eckhart Tolle

There are all sorts of books out there that talk about the importance of gratitude, especially when it comes to Law of Attraction. Which makes sense, of course, because the main premise of LOA is that like attracts like (so if you learn how to feel grateful about stuff and start practising gratitude regularly, you’ll attract more into your life to feel grateful about).

But what do you do when your life is turmoil and everything is going to hell in a hand basket and it just feels like everything sucks? Where do you even begin to find something to be thankful or grateful for? Especially when you just want to smack the irritating holier-than-thou types who smugly tell you that you should be grateful for what you have (even though you don’t think you have anything)? And why is it so freaking hard to find things to feel grateful about, anyway?

Why it’s hard to feel grateful

So here’s the thing. Gratitude is one of those things that is paradoxically really simple, and yet also really hard. It’s simple because, well really – all you have to do is feel grateful about something. But it’s also hard because we’re actually wired to ignore the good and focus on the bad. It’s called “negativity bias” and, at a really basic level, it means that we pay more attention to bad things because they could be a threat to us. Good things can be safely ignored because they can’t harm us, but bad things might be dangerous so we automatically fixate on them.

Fortunately for us, we don’t have to be controlled by the primitive parts of our brains that used this mechanism to keep us safe from sabre-toothed tigers way back when. And once we are aware of how negativity bias works, we can make it a point to override this biological programming and choose to focus on the good stuff – because there is always something good, even though it may seem otherwise

How to feel grateful when you’re miserable

I’ll say it again – even in those times that seem the darkest and most desperate, there is always something to feel gratitude for. And even more importantly, when it feels like you have nothing left in your life to feel grateful about this is probably the time at which you most need to focus on what good there still is in your life because this is the point at which gratitude is probably going to make the biggest difference; making it a point, every single day, to look for something that you are thankful for will have a huge impact on your life if you commit to making gratitude a daily practice.

When I started counting my blessings, my whole life turned around. ~Willie Nelson

The key, as always, is to start small. If things are really awful, don’t try to fake feeling grateful about something you really don’t have in order to try and make it happen for you. Instead, look for even the tiniest thing that you are honestly grateful for: a sunny day after a week of rain; the bird that unexpectedly sat on your windowsill and sang to you while you watched; your child’s hysterical giggles over something on his favourite TV show; the fact that the barrista at the coffee shop was actually in a good mood this morning; the fact that you have a warm place to stay on a cold night. Find anything that you do feel grateful for, and then take a moment to really let yourself feel the emotion, and say the words: “thank you”.

If you are so inclined, get yourself a notebook or start a computer file and record the things that you are grateful for (try to find at least three, but don’t worry if you can only come up with one or two in the beginning). Again, as you write these things down, take a moment to read them over and let yourself feel the gratitude as you say thank you.

For each new morning with its light, For rest and shelter of the night, For health and food, for love and friends, For everything Thy goodness sends. ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

As you get more comfortable with your gratitude practice, you’re going to start finding more and more things that you feel thankful for. You can either make it a point to record as many things as you can think of that you are grateful for at the end of each day, or you can start refining you practice and making it a point to reflect on all the good things that happened, and picking out your top three or top five things that you are most grateful for and recording only those. Again, feeling the emotion is the really important part of this – as you are going through your list of things, take the time to feel the gratitude for them.

Why gratitude works

At first, it may seem awkward or like some sort of chore to have to think of things to be grateful for. But stick with it. Over time, you’ll find that it gets easier and easier, and you’ll find things that you are honestly grateful for all over the place and all the time. You’ll find that gratitude has become an automatic part of your life. It becomes a habit, and as it does, you’ll find your mindset and mood changing, too. And because that changes, your vibration changes. And when you shift your vibe, your world will also start to change. Your life will start to turn around for you.

When you are grateful, fear disappears and abundance appears. ~Anthony Robbins

So, to sum this one up for you, the reason everyone talks about the attitude of gratitude is because it works. When it seems like everything in your life sucks and everything is falling apart, gratitude will be that major vibe-shifting force that really does work wonders because if you want to attract more into your life to feel good about, then you gotta learn how to feel grateful for the good that is already present. But don’t try to use gratitude just to try and get something, because that’s just taking. Practice gratitude in order to give. Give what you have: your love and your thanks for all that is, because this is where all the magic of the Universe begins — in the loving and in the giving that is gratitude.

photo credit: (c) Can Stock Photo
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