How to be Grateful Even When Problems Arise
When “just be grateful” is used to offset every difficult situation, it can become a cliché or even trivialized. The truth is, gratitude cultivates more effective outcomes. It’s not just a sweet sentiment. It’s a powerful path to wisdom and higher intelligence.
In TED* (*The Empowerment Dynamic)® framework, the Challenger role is the antidote to the Persecutor role in the Dreaded Drama Triangle (DDT). One of the abilities the Challenger energy brings forth is viewing problems as learning opportunities. The larger question becomes, can you be grateful for the opportunity to learn even in the middle of difficult situations?
Once problems arise and you react from old patterns, it is very difficult to access the amazing power of gratitude. You may even look for someone to blame for the mess. However, if you take a stand for learning and growth as your outcome, you can still move forward, despite the problems, in a state of gratitude and appreciation.
Gratitude for both the good and the difficult in your life is a choice and a practice—and it takes time to develop this broader perspective. But if you wait to begin a practice of gratitude only when things are going well, you will always be waiting.
When you are in a state of gratitude, you notice that your mood becomes light and your physiological vibration lifts. This new “state” allows you to see life and the world through a new lens. This energetic shift builds momentum and gives you the energy to take action toward what you care about.
If you see difficult situations as an opportunity to learn, you become uniquely qualified to support others who are struggling in similar situations. Why? Because you can now compassionately and gratefully connect with them, knowing that life is hard sometimes.
Here are three tips to cultivate gratitude, even during difficult times:
- Actively look for the good. When you intentionally look for the good in life, you are much more likely to recognize it, even when things go wrong. If you do not choose to actively look for good, you may not see it when it is right in front of you.
- Write down the good you recognize in a gratitude journal. Research has shown that just a few minutes a day recording what you are grateful for significantly increases a positive mood, which seeds creativity and well-being.
- Begin an “appreciation practice” at the start of a business meeting or before a family dinner. Ask each person to share what has worked well since the last conversation. When focused on what is working, more than what’s not, people report the mood becomes more positive and conversations are easier and more productive.
In the process of looking for the good, these grateful moments become like a magnifying glass that enlarges your focus and connects you to the positive feelings that arise when you focus on what you appreciate. You are literally teaching your neurological system what you value and, in the process, you counterbalance your brain’s tendency to think about what’s not going well.
There is one other key point to note. You can feel both a positive emotion from being in a state of gratitude and still feel anxiety about the problems you are facing. We are complex human beings that have the capacity to feel both at the same time.
Look back now and remember times you have faced a difficult situation. These moments serve as reminders that you are capable and have what you need to move forward, despite obstacles. That is something for which to be grateful!