Hello! Today I want to chat about something important: practicing gratitude when you feel blue. Everyone has those days when you feel down, uninspired or just plain unmotivated. Do you know what the #1 mistake is that most people make when they feel this way, my friend? They quit. But, as I explain in Growing Gratitude, when you feel like quitting that's when you need gratitude the most.
Here's my advice to help you cope when you get a case of the grumpies, so that you stay on the gratitude track.
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These past few weeks have been difficult for me. I don't feel like myself, my energy is low, and I feel down and unmotivated. As a result, practicing gratitude is the last thing I want to do each evening.
Still, I bring out my laptop every evening. There are days when I stare at the blinking cursor for 20 minutes, unable to come up with a single thing I'm grateful for. I sometimes wonder: 'Why do I do this to myself?'
Practicing gratitude is my ritual for self care. Gratitude has been a part of my life for over 3.5 years now. It's sacred. It's my core value. That means I don't give up on it easily.
Practicing gratitude means taking care of myself. A few minutes each day (or sometimes 20 or 30 minutes ;) to focus on what's important to me. Gratitude helps me change my perspective. It's a special kind of brain training.
When I feel down and unmotivated to write my gratitude list I think about what gratitude means to me and how much it has helped me in the past. Writing my gratitude list won't help me feel grateful, but at least I know I took care of myself and of my well-being.
Take-away: when you don't feel good about yourself and you're lacking in motivation to write your gratitude list, try thinking of it as a form of self care.
Routine and structure
Practicing gratitude over the past 3.5 years has become a routine for me. It's become a habit. The thing that makes it a habit is that I don't have to think about it. Each night after dinner I sit down to write my gratitude list.
Lately, I've come to realize how much I value this routine. It brings structure to my evening and that's helpful to me right now.
Take-away: having a routine and/or developing a structure for your day is helpful, especially when you don't feel your best.
Related post: How to make habits stick
Having a routine - sitting down after dinner to write my gratitude list - that part's easy. That part hasn't been affected by my recent mood change. However, actually thinking of three things I'm grateful for... that's where things get difficult.
But that's okay. These past few weeks I've consciously tried to be compassionate with myself and take it easy. I don't beat myself up when I can't come up with a single thing to be grateful for and I've skipped practicing gratitude for a day a few times.
Take-away: seeing gratitude as a form of self care also means being compassionate and gentle with yourself.
You may have wondered what's been going on in my life that has left me feeling so down.
Well, I could blame the dark and gloomy winter days, I could blame a recent struggle at work, but I won't.
The 'why' doesn't matter that much to me. I want to focus on the 'how'.
They say character is build not so much during the highs but during the low points in life. What's important to me right now is how I deal with this low point. I actively want to stay compassionate. I actively want to stay true to my core values and, therefore, I actively want to keep on practicing gratitude. No matter how hard it is sometimes.
I believe this attitude will help me feel better sooner.
Take-away: low points build character. How you deal with your low points determine how you'll come out of them. Use your low points to your advantage.
You know that saying about how when you're really busy and overwhelmed and don't have time for meditation that's when you need to meditate the most?
I think it's the same with expressing gratitude. You need keep on practicing gratitude, ESPECIALLY when you're feeling blue, unmotivated, negative or downright complain-y. The whole idea of focusing on gratitude is that it helps get you past those feelings.
Need more help with this? You'll find more gratitude strategies and dozens of different gratitude practices (complete with photo's, descriptions, and tips on how to implement them!) to fit your character and your mood in Growing Gratitude.