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A Gratitude Practice for when Things get Rocky.

The COVID-19 crisis has many people searching for ways to cope with loss.

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There’s a lot of sadness in the world, and depression and anxiety are on the rise. Many of us will hit what we feel is rock bottom.

We might lose jobs, loved ones, or our sense of self. We’re going to have to rebuild. And the foundation we need is gratitude.

There’s a common belief that we cannot feel grateful and sad at the same time. But the beautiful thing is that we have the power to decide what we feel by choosing what we focus on.

So many people wake up start the day thinking depressing thoughts. Maybe you’re one of them (aren’t we all?). Let me ask you: what are you focusing on?

>> The fear of contracting COVID-19? 
>> How you are going to pay the bills now that you lost your job?
>> Getting through life without the family member you lost?
>> Keeping your kids busy while you work?
>> How you’re ever going to meet your timeline of getting married and having kids when you can’t even date right now?

We have the power to choose what we focus on. Truthfully? A bad memory or thought can’t make you feel bad anymore, today. It already happened. It can only continue to make you feel sad if you continue to dwell on it.

Want to know something powerful I’ve learned? Even when we walk in faith, sometimes we can’t make the fear and anxiety go away. However, this doesn’t have to be our frame of focus! We can be in the midst of fear, but it doesn’t mean that we have to let that into our system.

We don’t have to ask some external force to give us more faith and gratitude. These two things are all a matter of focus.

I would be willing to bet that about 95 percent of the human population wakes up grumpy and goes to bed anxious on a regular basis. With COVID-19, I’d say this applies to everyone in some way. We already know now that waking up and starting our day in a bad mood starts a cycle of focusing on unpleasant events in our day. Is that how we want to go through every day in quarantine?

Maybe you’ve heard of gratitude journals, or starting your days with thanks. If we aim to shift into a more consistent mindset of faith and gratitude, it’s going to be just as important to end our day with gratitude as it will be to start it out that way.

Have you ever considered that maybe you woke up grumpy because you went to bed anxious? Going to bed feeling anxious, depressed, and discouraged will lead to a vicious cycle of starting the following day on the wrong side of the bed.

To combat this, we need to develop the habit of going to bed grateful. I learned this hack in the book, The Magic, by Rhonda Byrne.

Keep a “gratitude rock.”

You can pick out your rock any place you’d like. Just make sure it fits comfortably in your hand—maybe in your pocket.

Before you go to bed every night, hold your gratitude rock in your hand and give thanks for everything that went well in your day.

Say, “I’m grateful for all the food I ate,” “I’m grateful for the amazing home workout I had, and the walk I took around the block,” or, “I’m appreciative of the catch-up video chat I had with one of my best friends.” Perhaps you’ll give thanks for the fact that you were divinely protected and didn’t get into any accidents, for the sunrise and sunset, of for your tired body because it means you were able to work hard.

The list doesn’t have to be crazy long as long, as you feel the feelings of gratitude as you recall these events. Get into it. Remember the feeling of those moments.

After you make your mental list, give another round of thanks for the thing you are most grateful for. Give God (or whatever your higher power may be) praise for the best thing that happened to you that day.

This exercise often obliterates feelings of anxiety and worry, and creates a momentum of joy and gratitude for the next day. Often this leads to noticing more—well—magic; more positive emotions.

It’s incredibly easy for us to focus on our failures instead of being grateful for our victories. It’s not hard to focus on how far we have to go as opposed to being grateful for how far we have come. But again, we have that choice.

Choose gratitude for all the good in your life.

Make a concerted effort to ditch the complaints and worries. Get in the habit of reciting, verbalizing, and deeply feeling the feelings of gratitude for all your blessings, daily.

I promise you your days will be filled with magic—even in the darkest, most stressful, and trying times.

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