I write a lot about gratitude. I believe, and research shows it is an important piece of finding happiness. I talk to every person I work with about mindfulness and encourage them to develop a practice that works for them. I try to practice my own recommendations. I meditate for 20 minutes most days. I firmly feel like it has improved my overall well-being. It took me a long time to get to a regular practice. Like many people I found it hard to make that time commitment to myself.
The ongoing challenge is how to keep up the practice when things get hard. I have seen many people that had such a challenging 2015. Losses and pain and grief. How do you find gratitude and presence in the midst of those things? Sadly I can’t write the 5 ways to find gratitude when everything sucks. What I can share are a few suggestions that may be helpful.
- Work hard to practice some type of mindfulness. The 20 minute meditation may be out of the question but sit for 5 minutes and breathe. When we are in crisis mode we move and we forget to stop. It is important to take breaks and just sit and be even if it is just for a few minutes.
- Ask for help and accept it. I have seen people struggling so hard yet not allowing others to help them. The people that ask to help genuinely want to help let them. One problem is often people know they need help but aren’t exactly sure what it is that they need. Most of us have that friend, the organizer, and the one that loves a spread sheet. Ask them to help organize the help. Sometimes you may just need to be told what you need.
- There is a famous quote from Mr. Rogers “When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, “Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.” I think the same can be true in hard times. Look for the good moment. Even in our worst moments there is often a moment of lightness and laughter. Look for it. And let yourself have it once you find it.
- Be around positive people and not the negative ones. That is not to say you want people that are telling you things will be okay when they aren’t but some people have a way of wallowing in negativity while others can find the positive in anything.
When our life is hard making a commitment to take care of ourselves can feel overwhelming, but whatever you can do to allow yourself to be supported is important.