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4 Ways To Express Gratitude After A Grim Year

In the same breathe, always remember that it is perfectly okay to not be okay.

Giving thanks and expressing gratitude is one of the oldest concepts in society. It reminds us of how special, beautiful, and blessed our lives are even when we are faced with challenging, stressful, and overwhelming situations.

However, the pandemic has introduced to us a level of pain and isolation that many have never imagined. It destablized virtually everything we treasure and may have taken for granted– socializing with friends at home, eating out at a restaurant, or just giving a hug to someone.

Surprisingly, more people turned to gratitude. In fact, Twitter said that users had a “renewed sense of gratitude and support for our communities” and that in 2020, tweets expressing gratitude increased by 20% globally. (Read: 3 Prayers for Blessings and Gratitude)

What is gratitude?

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Verywell Mind defines gratitude as “the ability to recognize the goodness in your life, which is due to your surroundings as well as the actions of another person or a group of people.”

Expressing gratitude regularly will help you have an optimistic outlook on life and can have a huge impact on your overall mood and perspective. What’s more, when practiced during challenging times–like, say a pandemic–expressing gratitude can help you recognize the goodness of life. This practice helps calm fear and anxiety and maintain presence of mind and a positive outlook in an uncertain situation. (Read: 3 Personalities Who Overcame Challenges With the Help of Charity)

But gratitude does not come easy at first.  It takes practice, discipline, and commitment. But this doesn’t mean you have to do anything fancy. If you’re finding ways on how to become more grateful after experiencing a devastating loss, shock, or sadness, My Pope Philippines is here for you. Read on.

Start small

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Kristi Nelson, the executive director of the nonprofit A Network for Grateful Living suggests to start off expressing gratitude for each individual breath. COVID-19 has reminded us that breathing without medical help is not something everyone can do.

“The breath is the connection to all life and you are breathed into being every single moment,” she said.

Write it down

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Writing things down can help us remember stuff we need to do– and it’s the same when expressing gratitude for even the littlest things. Nelson recommends writing down what’ you’re grateful for in a gratitude journal. This can help you shift attention and see things in a more positive light during a bad situation.

Nelson suggests doing it in the morning. “That’s really where gratefulness lives, before anything happens. What are you already grateful for when you wake up in the morning?” says Nelson.

Expand your perspective

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Aside from being thankful for being able to breathe, Glenn Fox, a neuroscientist who studies gratitude says that a key way to appreciate what you have is to increase the number of things you are grateful for. From the sandwich you ate for lunch to reaching out to reconnect to loved ones. (Read: 2 Simple Ways to Remain Grateful Despite the Chaos)

“It primes us to feel that sense of humility, that we have more than we deserve,” says Fox. One thing that should prompt our humility and appreciation, Fox says, is the great effort it took to create the COVID-19 vaccines.

Do not force yourself

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Having more things you are thankful for means you are not forcing yourself to feel gratitude. Expressing gratitude should be a joyful experience and allowing it to spring naturally is part of the process. This way, you learn which aspects of your life need a quiet appreciation or a big gesture.

Moreover, Fox says it’s okay if you don’t feel like expressing gratitude during your lowest moments. For example, you probably won’t be able to easily access this feeling when you’re in the throes of grief. Similarly, it’s also OK to say something sucks, says Fox.


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