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Truthy Tuesday: Why it can be hard to be grateful & how I let gratitude in

Gratitude is an essential element of feeling truly happy, but it can also be difficult to experience day to day in our often too busy lives.

It seems so much easier to focus on what we don’t have, then on all that we do, and that’s usually because we get stuck either dwelling on the past, or waiting expectantly for the future.

And it’s so natural for us to do this- to live our lives half-stuck in our minds, in a time other than right here and now.

If something happens in our life to shake us up, it’s easy to cling onto that experience for awhile. And then what follows are often the excuses and blame and reasons why we can’t have the kind of life we really want- because this thing happened. And that happening is what has made x, y, z crappy now.

But it will always be crappy if you keep giving it an excuse to be so. The past can only follow us into the present if we take it by the hand and bring it along. But so often, we just aren’t quite ready to let go.

When I become focused on the past, it manifests as: self-doubt, stuckness, pessimism, criticism, disappointment, resentment.

And when I’m in the middle of feeling those things, I’m certainly not feeling like I have much of anything to be grateful for.

And on the flip side of that, as we hop from one task to another, constantly making plans and defining goals, trying to juggle all we have to do with some stuff we actually want to do, too- we can become very future focused.

We spend a huge chunk of our todays either worrying about, preparing for or putting off until tomorrow. The life we really want for ourselves seems to always be in the far off distant someday. And no matter how far we’ve come, it feels there’s still so far to go.

When I become focused on the future, it manifests as: impatience, envy, anxiety, procrastination, overwhelm, dissatisfaction.

So it’s no wonder, with much of our psyches stuck in either the past, or future, that we are often distracted from just how amazing RIGHT NOW is.

But when we take a moment to say thank you… When we stop and look around at all we have to be grateful for… When we take the time to count our ever-many daily graces… It has the awesome and incredible side-effect of bringing us right back to now.

Gratitude is presence. It’s acknowledgement of all that we have, and all that we are.

When I become focused on right here, right now, it manifests as: joy, observation, openness, creativity, action, ease, fulfillment.

And when I’m feeling those things, I can’t help but feel grateful! Gratitude begets gratitude.

As a reminder to myself to take those moments to hop back in the present and relish all that I am thankful for, I have a few little gratitude rituals (and might have to add some more, too :)

  1. Instead of keeping track of goals up ahead of me, I keep track of my accomplished goals & the things that rocked/went awesomely, in a section of my planner
  2. I keep an I AM/gratitude journal to keep track of things I’m grateful both to be and to have, that I can look at whenever I’m in a past/future funk
  3. I say thank you, a lot, to everyone, or try to. I say a little “thank you, so and so!” outloud to every e-book order I get, or new newsletter subscriber, or commenter. By the way, THANK YOU MAVENS! For just, you know, being you.
  4. I try to breathe/get centered/meditate/come back to present when I realize I’m getting stuck in the past or future. Because even if everything else sucks, if you can take in a big deep breath and feel your heart beating inside you, that alone is reason enough to be thankful.

When you let gratitude in, there’s no more room for self-doubt or anxiety- there is only love.

Say it with me now, in a whisper or a shout, say it out loud to the empty room or whoever is around to hear you- THANK YOU!

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Check out Jen’s post on showing gratitude for her (big, sick and now much healthier) body!

Share your thoughts/tips/struggles around gratitude on your blog too, and we’ll post a link right here for our readers to check out!

Victoria Musgrave shares what she’s grateful for

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What about you? Is it hard for you to find gratitude in your days? What are some ways you cultivate it, or some of the things in your life you have to be grateful for? We’d love to hear your stories in the comments!

6 Responses to Truthy Tuesday: Why it can be hard to be grateful & how I let gratitude in

  1. Coral says:

    I often do what I call my ‘gratitude speech’ on the way to That Day Job. I change it up every day, not just reciting the same things each time. It remind me how lucky I am.

    Things have been a little bumpy for me the last couple of weeks – and the expectations of what I am working towards as well as the baggage of the past have been less than helpful.

    When you are working towards something big, it can be hard to come back to the moment and see how far you have already come. But I celebrate the little steps as well as the bigger ones that are carrying me there. Little things like a comment on my blog, a like on Instagram or the big things like my stamps coming back from the manufacturer, setting up my blog and working on my Etsy store. And sometimes it’s a little sign from the universe telling me to keep going – a sign in this moment.

    • Oh wow, I like that- a gratitude speech! I do the same sort of thing as I’m drifting off to sleep sometimes… Sorry to hear you’ve had a bumpy coupla weeks, Coral! We know how it goes! When you’re launching something new and have done so much already, it can be painful to sit through the slow progress, but you are progressing and you’re right- keep looking to those little signs to remind you that you’re getting there! Good luck with everything- we’re rooting you on from here! -jena

  2. JoAnna says:

    GREAT post Jena! I love the way you broke it down into where our focus is the past or the future. I think this is SO true and it really made sense for me.

    Also love keeping track of past successes. One thing I’ve started doing that I heard a coach talk about is at the end of each day write down 1 thing that went GREAT during that day. I just started it this week and it makes you appreciate the little successes along the way that otherwise we might not even thing twice about.

    I also started using a gratitude journal app on my phone as the first thing I do when I wake up – sometimes I’m still snoozing but it wakes me up in a great mood! I blogged about that here.http://apeacefulhome.net/choosing-gratitude/

    Great post as always! Thank you!

    • Thank you so much JoAnna! That’s great you keep track of successes/good stuff too- it helps with perspective so much, huh? And cool! That app is a good idea! I’m going to look into that- what an awesome way to start the day! Thanks for saying hello here! :) -jena

  3. Victoria says:

    A great post Jena! I must admit I’ve struggled with gratitude and have tried to keep a gratitude journal in the past but let it drop after awhile. It is just so easy to get caught up in the day to day hustle or dwell on the negative. Gratitude is an act of mindful living. I’ve blogged my gratitude list here http://www.victoriamusgrave.com/i-am-grateful-for/.

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