How to BE Grateful When You Don't Feel Like It

identity money self-care Mar 11, 2022

This is a summary of my latest video.  If you’d rather watch that, you can do it here.

One of my non-negotiable practices is my gratitude practice.  Every evening, I list out three things I’m grateful for.  Sometimes, this is soooo easy to do.  In fact, there are many days when I am thankful for more than three things immediately.  Other times….well, not so much.  So, what can you do to be grateful when you don’t feel like it?

When I inherited my last team in corporate America, the company I worked for had a major morale challenge.  Since I know we can choose how we feel, I thought it was important to help my team choose to feel better and start leading their individual teams to do the same.  So, I brought my existing gratitude practice into our team meetings.  Every week, I had an agenda item called “Something Good”.  Each person in the meeting was to bring one good thing that has happened since our last meeting and share it with the rest of the team.  The first time Something Good appeared on our agenda, it took a lot of time.  People had a hard time coming up with anything to say.  Gratitude definitely takes practice, but it does get easier.  By the time I left that role, everyone was sharing one professional good thing AND one personal good thing.  It still took a long time to get through it, but for a VERY different reason.  AND, all those people have taken that practice to their own teams, so there’s a ripple effect, and it’s cumulative!!  

So, what if you don’t have a team where you can practice Something Good?  Well, there are other ways to practice gratitude.  There are a couple of versions of this exercise, but the one I like is called the gratitude jar.  On those days I mentioned that I immediately have more than three things I am grateful for, I still only write down three of them in my gratitude journal.  I put each of the rest of them on a small piece of scratch paper or post-it note.  Then, I fold them up and put them in a big jar.  I like to use a pickle jar, but any kind of large container will work.  Then, on those days when I’m having a tough time, I pull 1-3 of those pieces of paper out of the jar and read them.  I can use those in my gratitude list for today, if I need them.  But, what I’ve found is that just by reading those old gratitudes, I’m reminded of something good that happened today that I am grateful for.  If I don’t use them, I put them back in the jar, and they’ll be there when I do.

The bottom line is that gratitude takes practice, so if you don’t have a gratitude practice, START.  And then, try the gratitude jar (or box, if you don’t have a jar), and see if you can start being grateful, even when you don’t feel like it.

All my life, no matter what change I’ve experienced, I’ve been able to use journaling to remember who I am, begin to understand what I can learn from this change, and how my experience can help other people going through something similar.  Get my free prompts, “Journaling for Answers,” and start finding your own answers within.

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