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Finding Gratitude In The Dark

“Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. It turns what we have into enough, and more. It turns denial into acceptance, chaos to order, confusion to clarity. It can turn a meal into a feast, a house into a home, a stranger into a friend. Gratitude makes sense of our past, brings peace for today, and creates a vision for tomorrow.” –Melody Beattie

Most of us have heard about the benefits of gratitude. It can boost your immune system and decrease stress, according to Elizabeth Heubeck from WebMD. We know that practicing gratitude leads to a happier life and the feelings of abundance. What happens, though, when we can’t find gratitude? When we are trapped in darkness, how can we find a spark of thankfulness?

Tune into one. small. thing.

That’s it really. The practice begins in finding an appreciation for one small thing. Then the next. Then the next thing after that.

Psychology Today posted a great article from Toni Bernhard, J.D. about moving forward when we find our gratitude “in short supply.” She says, “Instead of trying to talk myself into big gratitude—a lecture that is always packed with judgmental “shoulds” and “oughts”—I decided to think small.” Bernhard shares this example:

Thinking big: “I should be grateful every single day that I live in a nice house with my own backyard.”

Thinking small: “That’s a pretty little bird in the yard.”

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By thinking small, we tune into the TRUE feeling behind the sentiment. We can say we are grateful for the roof over our head because we feel we should. Our intellect reminds us of the atrocities of the world, and how we should feel grateful it is not happening to us. But sometimes that is too big for us to tap into. We can think it but not actually feel it. In those circumstances, reach out for something you can feel. For me, it starts with my children. I can immediately tap into honest feeling when it involves my girls.

The practice of gratitude has to start somewhere. As with all things, the skill becomes stronger with practice over time. Seek the first, little thing you can find to be grateful for, and really feel the gratitude in your body. Feel it in your heart. When you find yourself in a dark thought, reach out for the next moment of small appreciation.

I, in all honesty, am thankful you are reading this. Thank you for letting me share my knowledge, research, and personal feelings with you.

photo credit: Avard Woolaver via photopin cc

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