Let’s face it: being human is difficult. Days can fly by on autopilot when you have a long to-do list, endless notifications, and worries about the past and future. Then, when a curveball is thrown, life becomes even more difficult.
If you’re feeling stuck, gratitude and mindfulness can help you get more out of life and overcome obstacles. Here’s how.
How gratitude helps you
Simply put, gratitude is the deliberate practice of noticing the good in your life. It refers to anything that makes you feel grateful, lucky, or blessed.
Practicing gratitude can help you improve your overall quality of life in a variety of ways, such as:
- improved mood
- better sleep
- improved self-esteem
- reduced stress levels
- increased empathy
- reduced levels of aggression
- increased zest for life
While gratitude can help you maintain a positive outlook on life, especially when things are difficult or falling apart, it is not a panacea.
Gratitude cannot alleviate the pain of life’s difficulties, such as job loss, heartbreak, or the death of a loved one. Painful emotions must be felt. You must feel it to heal it, as the saying goes.
While it may be tempting to try to mask pain with gratitude, this can lead to toxic positivity, which is a denial of negative events. Life is a series of highs and lows and of ups and downs.
How mindfulness helps you
Consider the snow globe analogy to better understand why mindfulness is so important. Someone or something will come over now and then shake things up. When this happens, you have two choices before you:
- You can be the snow.
- You can be the scene.
You’re at the mercy of the event when you’re “the snow” inside the snow globe. You naturally swirl around in the chaos, chastising yourself for being swept up. You agonize over why this happened in the past and add layers of pain to the experience.
When you’re “the scene” inside the snow globe, you remain immobile in the midst of the chaos of the snow swirling around you (present). Though the elements may brush up against you or settle on you for a spell, you can accept it and know that it will pass quickly. The chaos cannot exist “inside.”
It is not about creating a perfect life to compensate for pain. Instead, it is about managing your reaction to an imperfect life and thus breaking the grip of suffering.
How both can help you
When you combine gratitude and mindfulness, you can recognize the blessings in your daily life while also sitting in the present moment.
A gratitude and mindfulness practice may help you maintain a balanced perspective during difficult times. For example, if you lose your job, it can assist you in the following ways:
- be non-judgmental about your pain
- discover positive learnings from the experience
- keep yourself from ruminating on what happened
- keep yourself from becoming overwhelmed by what is to come
It may become easier to gain control of your mindset with practice.
Gratitude allows you to recognize your blessings and find balance amid life’s difficulties. Mindfulness teaches you how to handle difficult situations with grace, acceptance, and surrender. These practices, when combined, nurture what Buddhists refer to as your “Higher Self.”
Both powerful in and of themselves, but together, may help you enjoy the present moment while also navigating life’s challenges as they arise.