How To Practice Gratitude During Times of Trouble

How To Practice Gratitude During Times of Trouble

Gratitude – we hear how important it is to practice gratitude. During times of trouble it can be difficult to find anything to be grateful for. Often these times are when we most need to flex our gratitude muscle. Practicing gratitude regularly offers many of the same health benefits that alcohol free living does – more positive emotions, feeling more alive, sleeping better, expressing more compassion and kindness, and even stronger immune systems. No wonder those who are both alcohol free and practicing gratitude feel so good!


When we encounter troubling times it seems only natural to see all of the negatives around us. The last thing we want to do is cheer up when we’re consumed by grief, anxiety, depression, and the other emotions that accompany times of trouble. Thank goodness practicing gratitude is not about cheering up! You can be in the pits of despair and still practice gratitude. Gratitude is really about awareness. It’s tuning into yourself and finding things to be thankful for while still acknowledging that current circumstances might suck.

So how do you practice gratitude during times of trouble?

1) Remember that practicing gratitude and feeling grateful are two separate things.

You can practice gratitude during times of trouble without actually feeling grateful. While you can’t force yourself to feel something, you can do the practice (even reluctantly) and still benefit from it. Gratitude is a practice. It is training your mind to look for the positive among the negativity we are surrounded by each day. So even if you don’t FEEL grateful, be observant and find just three things you appreciate that day. That simple daily exercise continues to reshape your mindset and attitude towards making gratitude an almost automatic response.

2) Adversity Isn’t Apocalyptic

When we face troubling times it can be difficult to imagine that anything good can come from it. Whatever loss we’re currently enduring leaves us feeling as if this adversity might be the end of the world. I know I’ve often emerged from those moments wondering how it was possible that around me the world was still spinning and everyone was still just living their normal daily lives. Didn’t they realize the suffering going on around them? Yet those experiences, however awful at the time, reshaped me. Adversity isn’t apocalyptic – it is the precursor to prosperity.

I’m grateful for adversity like being downsized at work because it forced me to pursue my big dream of publishing a book. Losing loved ones made me aware of the relationships I’d been neglecting and needed to work on. Every challenging event in my life brought about a change that I’m now super grateful for. So sometimes in adversity practicing gratitude can be as simple as expressing the hope that something good will emerge from a seemingly hopeless situation.

Need Help to Practice Gratitude Right Now?

Are you finding it difficult to practice gratitude? Does it seem like like there’s nothing to look forward to? Join us in The PATH where you can connect with others who are also working to overcome adversity and find gratitude in the process. Sign up here!

3) Occasionally it’s a treasure hunt

I’m not going to tell you to count your blessings or that things will look brighter tomorrow as a mantra to practicing gratitude in times of trouble. That’s probably the most unhelpful advice ever. My advice instead is to work on reframing a negative experience. Yes, life has its share of downs and we shouldn’t discount that. What we can do is go on a treasure hunt and look for any seeds of positivity that exist among our troubles. Have we learned from the experience? Have we found a new appreciation for things we previously took for granted? Gratitude isn’t always big grand gestures. Sometimes finding a small morsel of gratitude within a mountain of disaster is what sustains us.

My Gratitude For You

Today, as we celebrate Thanksgiving in the United States during a most troubled time, I need to express my gratitude for you. I’m grateful each day for those of you brave enough to share your stories, read my books, join The Alcohol Experiment, or whatever it is you’re all doing to push the needle. Thanks to each one of you, questioning our relationships with alcohol is shifting from a “what’s wrong with you” conversation to a “what’s right with you” mindset. I can’t even express the gratitude I feel over that.

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