Looking for some quick motivation? Peruse a collection of articles both written by and about me to take some motivation with you into your own life!
Gratitude Schmatitude: 6 Practical Solutions to Common Obstacles
By Michele Wahlder, MS, LPC, PCC
Life, Career & Wellness Coach
Have you ever felt so tired, beat-down and stressed out that conjuring feelings of gratitude seemed downright ridiculous, and perhaps even a little infuriating? If so, you are not alone. The truth is, most of us have been raised in an environment where negativity eclipses gratitude. Like all things we want to be better at, adopting a perspective of gratitude is something we must practice. Through cultivating a practice of gratitude, we are able to be more deliberate in holding a positive mindset—even when under difficult circumstances, when it doesn’t come naturally.
Six Practical Solutions to Common Obstacles:
- Obstacle: You don’t feel grateful.
We take a shower when we aren’t in the mood, brush our teeth, go to work, prepare dinner and even exercise. Somehow when it comes to spiritual or personal development practices, we let ourselves off the hook if we “don’t feel like it.” We may not realize that even though spiritual self-care is less tangible, it is just as important as physical self-care.
Solution: “Fake it” till you make it.
Getting your gratitude in motion (i.e. taking action) is one of the most important aspects of shifting from a negative to a positive, grateful outlook. Choosing to “fake it”—choosing gratitude even when you are not feeling particularly grateful—is the first step to actually becoming grateful. Just as uplifting or upbeat music can lift our mood, so does a conscious choice to express gratitude for what we have … even the smallest privilege or advantage can elevate our state of mind.
- Obstacle: Lack of peer pressure.
In our own little bubble, we may feel grumpy, negative and blue. After all, who will know or care if we DO NOT practice gratitude? There is no peer pressure to create or sustain appreciating the people, places and things in our lives.
Solution: Gather support.
Ask a friend, group, spiritual organization or life coach to join you in creating a gratitude practice. Share daily, weekly and/or monthly with each other – watch as the positive changes unfold!
- Obstacle: I don’t know how to start?
In theory, practicing gratitude seems like a virtuous concept – but how do I start?
Solution: Start wherever you are!
Right now - notice your legs that take you where you need and want to go. Give them a silent “thank you,” wherever you are! So many people and animals no longer have the privilege of using their limbs. Notice your hands - picking up your phone, holding hands with a loved one, petting your dog - take notice. There is NO perfect way to start, only that you start now! Notice as the positive benefits snowball in your life!
- Obstacle: My gratitude practice has become rote.
Most of us enthusiastically start a new habit, then gradually, the initial zeal wears off, routine and boredom sets in. Perhaps, we believe we have exhausted our list of blessings.
Solution: Keep it fresh with three new creative options.
a) Laser focus your gratitude on one life area at a time i.e. home, relationship, career, health etc.
b) Use the simple structure of the alphabet. Either aloud or in writing, begin naming your blessings, starting with the letter “A,” continuing through the alphabet. Or, read about each letter and the spiritual concept connected to each letter in my book, Alphatudes: The Alphabet of Gratitude.
c) Make it fun! Involve friends and family with an interactive game in which you randomly pick letters and questions that draw out new aspects of gratitude. Gratitude Topic Cards™ gives 100+ gratitude challenges for an exciting new gratitude game.
- Obstacle: Sleepiness sets in.
If we express gratitude in the evening, it can possibly lull us to sleep, which is not bad thing, however, tiredness can interfere with attaining the maximum benefits of this mindful practice.
Solution: Get grateful at various times of day.
No specific time of day is better than another for gratitude. Simply making a point to be conscious of what you have to be grateful for during the day is all that matters.
- Obstacle: Takes too much time.
You might be thinking that you don’t have time to add one more thing to your already hectic life.
Solution: Keep it brief.
Expressing gratitude can be as short as ten seconds. If your only two words are, “Thank you,” that would be enough. And, if you feel inspired, you can add specifics: such as, “Thank you for my life, my ability to breath, walk, talk, and love.” Just be sincere, not necessarily lengthy.
Gratitude brings light into our hearts, spreads loving warmth throughout our bodies and radiates positive energy into the world. The more we consciously and consistently grow in gratitude, the more benefits we will experience.
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