Gratitude is not a new concept, but using it as a coping tool may be new for you. Gratitude as a coping tool is not just a reactionary response like saying “thank you” after a personal interaction, or after something blatantly good happens to you. Using gratitude as a coping tool is active and purposeful. It is about searching out and actively calling to mind portions or moments in your day, that no matter how small, provided some light or relief. It is about acknowledging moments that you may not have noticed at the time or may have simply taken for granted, but now you get to relive them with the full effects of gratitude. And while being grateful for the big things in life is important, it is finding gratitude in the little things that we take for granted, that fills our voids with light.
As we enter a holiday season like no other we’ve experienced, it is okay to both mourn what we hoped would be, and be grateful for what is. There are things to be grateful for even in the darkest of days. A gratitude tool that I strongly recommend is the “grateful flow.”
So how do you do the grateful flow? Take a moment now to be present. In your mind, say things no matter how nuanced, that you are grateful for. Start with “I’m grateful” and finish the sentence. Like most exercises, this is something you get better at with practice. Chances are you will start big, with things like family, friends, shelter etc. That’s great, as you practice see if you can pinpoint little things throughout your day that you are grateful for. Even on your toughest most frustrating days there are things that made your day less frustrating. Was it your morning coffee, the morning kiss from your child or pet, or even that you had a pen in reach when you needed to write something down? Try to string three or four things together that you are grateful for. The more you practice the more you will notice that you are more grateful throughout your day.
Here are some examples of things that I was grateful for today:
I am grateful for my winter coat.
I am grateful for grocery deliveries.
I am grateful that my home printer works.
I am grateful that I remembered to replace the doggie poop bags this morning.