During some of the most depressing and frustrating times of my life, my gratitude practice has been a foundation that got me through those rough patches. Remaining focused on things to be grateful for and all that I had, despite the challenges I was facing at the time, helped me find hope and happiness and reminded me that I’d been through challenging times before and survived – and even thrived.
Adding more gratitude into your life doesn’t have to be hard or challenging. In fact, creating your very own gratitude challenge or practice can be fun and simple. Here are three women who used the power of gratitude to change their lives for the better.
21 Days of Gratitude
Tessa quit her job at a corporate law firm to become a virtual assistant and stay home with her twin boys. At first, Tessa was delighted that she got to work from home and care for her children. But as time went on, Tessa’s client list began to grow and she started to feel overwhelmed. She found herself feeling resentful of her clients and she wasn’t sure how to find the joy in her work anymore.
Tessa’s business coach challenged her to take five minutes each morning to list one perk of working at home. She struggled with the assignment for the first few days. But after a week, it became easier. By the end of the challenge, Tessa was feeling more positive about her business.
The change in perspective allowed her to take a step back and look at her brand through a new lens. This helped her take positive action to redesign her business so it fit her lifestyle.
30 Days of Thankfulness
Melody was married to a firefighter. When her husband first joined the force, she was excited that he was so passionate about his work. But as the years passed, Melody began to feel like she and the children came second.
The more she focused on that thought, the more she felt angry and resentful. She found herself picking fights with her husband whenever he was home. The more she picked at him, the more her husband withdrew. Their relationship began to suffer significantly and it started to affect their children.
When she asked one of the older wives for advice, the other woman recommended that Melody keep a list of reasons she was thankful for her husband each day. Although Melody thought the exercise was silly, she did it.
After a month, she noticed a change in her attitude toward her husband. Now, instead of seeing all of his flaws, she was able to focus on his good qualities like his caring heart, his patience with the kids, and his dedication to their community.
14 Days of Gratitude
After Katie gave birth to triplets, she hated to look in a mirror. All she saw were stretch marks, loose skin, and baby weight. Her boyfriend was supportive of her and told her that he thought her body was beautiful. Though he meant the words, Katie struggled to believe him.
When Katie complained about her appearance to her best friend, she recommended that Katie see a counselor since she had a history of an eating disorder. Her friend was worried that the recent changes could lead to a relapse.
Katie followed her friend’s advice and saw a therapist who specialized in working with women who struggled with eating disorders. The counselor advised Katie to journal about everything her body could do.
At the end of two weeks, Katie noticed she was feeling more confident and taking better care of herself. By writing about her body in a positive light, she had been reminded of her own strength and beauty.
Create your own challenge or practice
Like the women above, there may be a situation in your life that you are unhappy with. Rather than focus on it, you can take positive action by starting your own gratitude challenge. Each of these women was encouraged to keep a list of reasons to be grateful. By writing down your gratitude, you make it more permanent, offering a constant reminder
of all that you have.
What’s the difference between a challenge and a practice? A challenge is something you do for a brief period, say a set number of days, weeks, or months. A practice is something you do consistently and hopefully permanently. The really great thing about a gratitude challenge is that it can inspire you and end up becoming your gratitude practice instead of just a challenge.
If you want to create a gratitude challenge, choose the length of time you’ll do it: 14, 21, or 30 days. Then choose what you want to be grateful for: this might be a person, a relationship, or something else specific. Or it might simply be that you want to be grateful for whatever comes to mind.
Finally, decide how many things you want to write down each day. This number should be a minimum, such as that you will write down at least one thing each day. I usually recommend 3-5 reasons each day. If you come up with more reasons, go ahead and write them down, but by giving yourself a minimum number (I strongly suggest more than just one) you encourage yourself to really be on the lookout for gratitude each day.
If you’re hoping to create a gratitude practice that lasts, the steps are the same but you don’t need to choose a time period. Just decide what you want to be grateful for and how many reasons you’ll write down each day.
It’s that simple!
I also encourage you to get a beautiful journal and a quality pen to write your gratitude in. These are some beautiful journals and pens that are perfect for this purpose (affiliate links).
This can not only motivate you during the challenge but also gives you a visually appealing reminder after the challenge to continue looking for reasons to be grateful. It also encourages you to reflect on past reasons you’ve written, reminding you that even in the worst moments, there’s still plenty to be grateful for.