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How Practicing Gratitude Can Bring Joy in Hard Times

Updated: Aug 23

How Practicing Gratitude Can Bring Joy by Dr. Richelle

In the midst of difficult times, it can be challenging to find joy or a sense of contentment.

However, there is a powerful tool that can help us shift our focus and cultivate a more positive mindset: practicing gratitude. While gratitude is often viewed as an emotion, it is actually a practice that can enrich our lives in meaningful ways. By expressing thankfulness and appreciation, we can experience a range of benefits, including improved sleep quality, reduced stress, and increased feelings of happiness and hope.

In this blog post, we'll explore the science behind gratitude and share practical tips for incorporating it into your daily routine, even during the toughest of times.

From Discontentment to Contentment: Shifting Your Disposition with Gratitude

It seems that “gratitude” and “thankfulness” are becoming popular buzzwords these days, and I’m thrilled! Practicing gratitude is a wonderful way to cultivate an abundant mindset and find joy in hard times.

But when hard times come, gratitude is often the farthest thing from our minds.

Life is hard. Life is messy. We get hurt, sad, and angry. We support people we love through the hardest moments and wonder why it's happening at all. Practicing gratitude can feel out of place in hard moments, like we’re trying to distract ourselves from what’s really happening. But practicing gratitude in hard moments isn't a distraction.

Practicing gratitude brings light in our dark places, and oxygen when we feel like we can barely breathe.

“While gratitude is an emotion, if we want to experience its full power, we must also make it a practice. Gratitude is a practice that can enrich our lives in meaningful ways.” - Brene Brown

When I was a child, my parents taught me to say ‘thank you’ as a response to acts of kindness from others. They were thankful people all their lives. Even up to the end when my mom was dying in ICU, she was grateful for the kindness of the nurses who were tending to her. My dad was no different. While he was angry about needing to go into hospice care when my mom died, he was always gracious and grateful to the hospice caregivers. You see, being grateful was more than good manners for my folks; it was a way of life.

When I think back on all my parents went through, I can’t think of the difficulties they experienced without also remembering their gratitude in the midst of it. While it didn’t make the hard things go away, their gratitude brought light into their darkness.

Gratitude is an attitude that ushers in joy even in the hardest circumstances.

I say often that when focusing on the positive, it leaves little room for the negative. That is the purpose of gratitude! It refocuses our attention onto the Grace and Goodness of God. Gratitude is what helps us find joy in the hard times.

Expressing our thankfulness is a gift not only to others but to ourselves as well. It can be an antidote in our suffering when we choose to find something to be thankful for.

Gratitude has the capacity to lift our moods and change our disposition. It can shift us away from discontentment and focusing on what we lack to an awareness of the blessings we have.

The Science of Gratitude: Understanding the Benefits

When practiced regularly, gratitude improves the quality of life.

Here are just a few of the scientifically proven benefits of regularly practicing gratitude :

  1. improves sleep quality.

  2. improves emotional regulation.

  3. increases feelings of happiness and positive mood.

  4. fosters hope for the future.

  5. reduces stress, burnout, and symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)

  6. increases resilience and mental strength

God knew what He was talking about when He instructed us to “give thanks in all circumstances” (1 Thessalonians 5:16).

A grateful mindset creates an abundant life.

A Simple Practice to Incorporate Gratitude into Your Daily Routine

Here’s a gratitude practice I’ve started. During the middle of each day, especially when stressed or overwhelmed, I stop to say these words out loud, “I am grateful for…”

I am grateful for a night of rest.

I am grateful that I get to have coffee with my friend this morning.

I am grateful for a working furnace and a warm bed.

I am thankful for the kindness of others extended to me in my grief.

Gratitude helps me appreciate what is present in my life. It helps me celebrate goodness. And it creates a feeling of contentment. Peace is the outcome.

Ultimately, gratitude is a gift to our souls.

Here’s a challenge for you today. As you go through the day, I invite you to repeatedly say “thank you” in the tasks you perform, for the objects you use, to the people around you, to God and to yourself. Notice how it FEELS when you do so.

Practicing gratitude will brighten the darkness and create space for you to breathe and find joy again.


Let me ask you this question: Could you use support to help you change a bad habit, feel better about yourself or navigate through a big transition like loss, retirement, divorce or empty nest? Please click here to schedule a complimentary call with me. We’ll talk through your unique situation and see if one-on-one coaching is the help you need most right now.

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How Practicing Gratitude Can Bring Joy by Dr. Richelle

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Dr. Richelle Hoekstra-Anderson is an Abundant Life and Business Coach. Her coaching utilizes a variety of tools to help you gain clarity on how you are designed for significance. When you come to understand and appreciate your unique design, you create the mindset to help you meet current challenges and live an abundant life. Ultimately, you gain new insight and learn the skills needed to create a confident life of peace, balance, and joy.

Click here to learn more →

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