“Thankful” is certainly the buzzword of the moment as we approach Thanksgiving. We assume gratitude is natural and that the entire American public is caught up in the spirit of it. Yet for some, it’s not quite that simple. Stressors, including economic uncertainty, family discord or grieving the loss of a loved one, can make it difficult for individuals during the holidays. If this sounds like you, I’ve got a few tips to help.

Why gratitude?

Let’s not downplay your grief or struggles. The challenges you face are real and you have the right to experience the emotions associated with them. However, learning to find the good moments can help you get through difficult times. In fact, Dr. Robert Emmons, author and University of California Psychology Professor says we can increase our happiness by 25% by being grateful for what we do have.

Start small

We don’t need grandiose moments or perfect lives to be grateful for what we do have. You got up this morning. Start with that. Be thankful for that great cup of coffee you had or the way the stranger you walked by on the street offered you a smile. When you start looking for things to be grateful for, they begin to appear quite easily.

Help others

Volunteering to help others who are struggling in some way can put our own lives into perspective. It’s not about measuring who has it worse. It’s about realizing that we’re not alone. Life is challenging, but we can get through it if we pull together.

Write them down

As you identify things you’re thankful for write them down on a slip of paper. Grab an old jelly jar or a small box and begin filling it with those notes. If tomorrow is a down day, grab your jar and start reading those slips again. Remembering those little things will help you see past the moment.

Be Carried

Do you remember the poem Footprints? The poet, Margaret Fishback Powers, questions Jesus about why, during the most difficult times of her life, there is only one set of footprints in the sand instead of the two – hers and Christ’s – present the other times. Christ answers her, “When you saw only one set of footprints, It was then that I carried you.” When all else fails, let Him carry you.

Challenge: Take time out every day to find something to be thankful for. Even cloudy days have silver linings.

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