Wednesday, November 21, 2012

How to Be Grateful When You Don’t Feel Like It

Let’s face it. It’s cool to be grateful. Oprah made it a worldwide phenomenon when she started keeping a gratitude journal way back when. And, there’s a reason it’s so popular. Focusing on what you have and not what you lack is one of the most simple and profound ways to learn to appreciate your life and the people in it.

For some, gratitude comes easily. For others, it takes work. Here are some ways I’ve found to revive the gratefulness perspective:

Go for a Run. I know I am preaching to the choir here. Pre-run you are down on your life, annoyed by your family and friends and generally irritated by everything. During your run something happens. Life opens up. You get perspective. You start to notice the beauty around you. You appreciate the strength of your body. Post-run your head is clear and you are often able to feel and see the gifts around you.

Stop comparing yourself to others. This is the single most important thing to do if you want to feel better about your life. This is your day, your journey, your race, your family, your relationship, your job. Make it a point to be the best person you can be, and refuse to feel less than because someone else is stronger, richer, prettier, faster, smarter or more intelligent. If you feel envy, use it to your advantage. Being jealous of someone tells us what we might want more of in our lives. Figure it out, and go get it.

Don't compare yourself to others<br />Because, it'll only make you feel like complete crap.

Do it at the same time everyday. Make being grateful a part of your day just like brushing your teeth. I do an inventory every morning before I get out of bed of the things that are going right in my life and the people who I cherish. If I’m dealing with a particular struggle - a problem with a friendship, an injury or a misbehaving child, I try to think about what I can learn from the situation to make it make me better. I try to be grateful for the challenge.

Stop looking at Facebook. FB is a wonderful tool for reconnecting with old friends and staying in touch with family. But,  it can be the perfect breeding ground for feeling less than (Suzy ran another PR! Johnnie’s marriage is so perfect! Mary’s kids are all geniuses! The Smiths travel all of the world every other month!). If it brings you down, stop going there.

Give to others. Sometimes we get so stuck in our heads about what our personal challenges are. When we reach out and take time for others, gratitude and a sense of well being creep in. Send a friend a card. Volunteer at an old folk’s home. Buy a stranger a cup of coffee.

Stop thinking it should be a certain way. When we get caught up in an ideal of how we think life needs to be, we become inflexible. We get let down. We forget to be grateful. Do your best to accept how life is unfolding for you right now. This doesn’t mean you can’t have dreams and a preference for how you would like things to go. But, do not be tied to that plan. Go with the flow, be adaptable.

Lower your expectations. We are taught to have very high expectations for ourselves. That is all fine and good, but it can ultimately breed dissatisfaction. If your expectations are low, you will rarely be disappointed. You will be grateful for any positive outcome that comes, no matter how small.

Any other tips for how to feel grateful?

What’s one thing you are grateful for on this Thanksgiving Eve? My quirky, funny, loving family, safe and sound within these four (or more) walls.

Happy Thanksgiving!

SUAR

34 comments:

  1. Thank you...needed this :) Happy Thanksgiving!

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  2. Great tips - the Facebook thing is so true - I have to really watch that. Tonight I'm thankful that my husband is home (and not deploying soon) and that even though my youngest son is currently sick, he will be well soon unlike so many others!
    Happy Thanksgiving!

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  3. Thank you not only for your funny insights but your steadfast posts for this blog...it helps me more than I could ever express!

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  4. Volunteer at an animal shelter...or better yet, rescue a pet in need. Talk about grateful!

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  5. I teach ESL once a week. I get more out of it that I put into it. When I arrive at class after a long day of work, I am met by people who came to this country to seek a better life. Many have horror stories of how they were treated back home. They treat me like a goddess when I'll I'm doing is giving up a little time each week. They remind me to feel grateful for all that I have.

    Tomorrow I'm spending part of my Thanksgiving delivering Meals on Wheels to shut-ins. Again, it's a way to get out of myself and connect with people who aren't as fortunate as I am.

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  6. Most grateful for my husband and our health. Great post.

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  7. So grateful for my health, my ability to make a good living, my family, my home. All that.

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  8. Love the gratitude!!! I'm thankful for an email I got that my husband should be home for Christmas!! (Currently deployed). So thankful to bring home my kids' dad for the holidays! ;)

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    1. So happy that your husband will be home for the holudays. Last year mine was in Afghan. He retired this summer. A big thanks to both you and your husband!

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    2. So happy that your husband will be home for the holudays. Last year mine was in Afghan. He retired this summer. A big thanks to both you and your husband!

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  9. Most grateful that my Dad's health has taken an upward turn. I really thought he wouldn't see another Thanksgiving.

    Also grateful for my own health. I don't take it for granted.

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  10. I've borrowed this from AA, but it works me: "Accept the things I can not change." Also when I tuck my kids into bed, we discuss their "best thing of the day". Hopefully, I'm building gratitude with them.

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    1. We do this with our boys every night! "Favorite part of the day" is what we call it. It makes them think of something good at the end of the day, rather than anything bad or negative!

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  11. All good points. I was giving a "blessings" bracelet with four big pearl beads and the instructions said to "count my blessings" on the bracelet each time I thought of it. I think sometimes we don't make it such an "everyday" kind of habit and I think that is important.

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  12. Today I am thankful for yesterday! Yesterday I was running Stimpson Trail, a short but arduous trail; tripping over a rock, I fell forward really really hard. I skinned my left knee and fell on my right arm. After saying only one small bad word, I got up, hobbled a few feet but finished the run! (I am sooo studly) Today I am thankful I can move... with the help of muscle relaxants! Because every muscle in my body is screaming at me!. Back muscle spasms, an arm that feels like I hoisted a small elephant ...the knee has some swelling along with small scrapes and rips. And I must have hit my face (though I don't remember that part) because my R jaw is sore and slightly bruised.I'm kinda worried since I am realatively new runner and I'm 53 and only getting older..I wonder if I will out live my falling or out grow my clumsiness? But I am thankful, so very very thankful that 18 months ago I started walking/running. Now running... and looking forward to PNW RAGNAR!

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  13. Perfect. Needed to hear this. Happy thanksgiving! I am grateful for this honest blog :)

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  14. Love love love Beth. Thank you for this. Just what I needed to read at this point in my life. this year has been a struggle for me in many ways. Even focusing on gratitude hasn't come as easy for me as it used to. My favorite point here is the part about giving to others! Yes yes yes. I was just telling my husband today that I think this would really help me right now. Also starting the day with gratitude and ending with personal affirmations...things that went RIGHT that day. Going to be thinking of the good things can't hurt...it can surely help us sleep better and get our subconscious or whatever thinking about good things instead of worrying about all the things that are heavy on our hearts/minds like I've been doing so much of. Happy Thanksgiving to you beautiful Beth. Thank you for you.

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  15. Certainly my family. Being able to run. Being able to choose the way my life is going.

    Great post!

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  16. I am grateful for all kinds of things, but I was reminded today that some people make you feel like you can do anything. I'm glad to have them in my life.

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  17. Did Number 2 on the weekend, and number 30, well I bought a couple of donuts the other day and eat them all...

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  18. Thank you, Beth! Great article!

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  19. THANK YOU! Happy Thanksgiving!

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  20. Grateful for humor and levity you bring to us. Thankful for what running has brought me. Thankful for family, friends and the opportunities this country affords me.

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  21. I grew up on a farm. Every day I had to get up at the butt crack of dawn and milk the cows. I didn't like getting up early, in the freezing cold and massaging cows udders. Nowadays - when I get grumpy, I asked myself "did you have to get up early and milk a cow?" the answer is always "nope" then I smile to myself and I realize how good I got it!

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  22. You're welcome! ;-) I went through so many lists of what I'm grateful for during my IM last weekend that I was well practiced by today! Happy Thanksgiving!

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  23. You are sooo right on the money about facebook. I loathe facebook and it has been linked to depression. we have become such a self indulgent narcissistic people that we think everyone actually cares about other's workouts or how perfect their kids are blah blah blah. oh lemme post more picture of ME! ME! ME! cuz Im just so darn hot! ughhh, facebook. twitter. all of it is a waste of time.

    Love your list. I needed to read that right now. Thank you for this post!

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  24. I agree with so many others... I needed to read that right now. You always know how to put things into perspective and I love that about you.

    I am thankful for my three beautiful boys and my wonderful husband. I am also blessed with some great friends and family! Happy Thanksgiving!

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  25. I love his post. I need to figure out how to save it so I can read it over and over.... Thank you!!

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  26. Thank you! This is exactly what I need!

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