December 24, 2021 |Gideon Hanekom

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In this post, we’re looking at the top 5 ways to feel gratitude in challenging times.

If you haven’t noticed yet, life is unpredictable and often very challenging.

For example, looking back on the last 24 months with the current Covid-19 pandemic, it’s been difficult for so many people that one doesn’t know where to begin articulating the sorrow and anguish of some.

It’s a perfect example of a significant life curveball that no one saw coming but had a far-reaching impact on everyone on the planet.

Even if you don’t believe the hoopla or statistics, most people have been affected by the pandemic in some way, even if they are completely unaware of it.

The point is, it’s surprisingly easy to get frustrated, pissed-off, scared, or even resentful when the storms of life hit, and completely forget about gratitude for the good things in our lives.

In fact, not only can it become quite easy to forget about the good things in your life, you can get so overwhelmed with negativity that you don’t see any good at all.

feel gratitude

To overcome this, we’ll look at the top 5 ways to feel gratitude in challenging times, as a natural antidote and before you lose your mind.

“Sometimes life knocks you on your ass… get up, get up, get up!!! Happiness is not the absence of problems, it’s the ability to deal with them.”

Steve Maraboli

According to, studies show that gratitude can be a booster shot for a relationship:

…gratitude had uniquely predictive power in relationship promotion, perhaps acting as a booster shot for the relationship.

What this basically shows is that the more gratitude one feels, the more that influences all of your feelings, outlook, and behaviours in your relationship, which in turn influences your partner’s feelings, outlook, and behaviours accordingly.

In short, gratitude ultimately lays a foundation of positive feelings, outlook, and behaviours within a relationship, which causes the relationship to remain healthy in the long run.

So, learning how to be more grateful has huge benefits for your life and relationship health, which makes it worthwhile to think about.

Moreover, according to a 2015 study, “The Role of Gratitude in Spiritual Well-Being in Asymptomatic Heart Failure Patients,” gratitude has a significant role in overall wellbeing.

According to the findings of the study, being grateful can assist improve the health of people suffering from heart disease.

This has far-reaching consequences, and researchers believe it can benefit anyone.

So, not only does gratitude positively affect your relationship health, but feeling gratitude can also hold major health benefits for a person.

feel gratitude

The challenge, however, as I already pointed out, is that life throws curveballs at us, which makes it very difficult to remain positive and grateful for things.

But, it is because of that reality that we need to learn how to remain resilient through gratitude amidst challenging times, as that is the nature of life.




So, let’s look at the top five ways to feel gratitude in challenging times.

Consider these 5 Ways to Feel Gratitude in Challenging Times:

1. Include an act of kindness in your day

When we’re going through a stressful or difficult period in our life, we get so self-centred and focused on self-pity that we rarely stop to think about others.

This is precisely why we need to break away from this negative mindset by doing something kind.

Life coach Tony Robbins always says,

… the secret to living is in giving.

What he is getting at is that when we are faced with challenging times or situations, we become very self-focused and self-absorbed.

When you’re in that state it becomes very easy to feel self-pity.

Showing kindness to someone else, while you’re in that difficult time, interrupts your pattern of self-absorption and puts things in perspective.

feel gratitude

So ask yourself:

Who is the most deserving of my simple act of kindness today?

Who has shown me support and love lately?

What can I do to honour their support and affection?

By being kind and generous to others, you create a greater sense of connection that generates a more positive outlook on life, and you end up feeling better about yourself AND the world.

2. Say thank you for the little things

When things don’t go your way and you feel like a victim of life, it can be extremely hard to feel gratitude and notice things to be thankful for.

Seriously, what it feels like every decision you make is turning to custard, it is very difficult to remain positive, let alone in a state of gratitude.

Yet, there are plenty of small joys and blessings around you, even on the most difficult of days.

It might be difficult to notice them because of what’s happening at that moment, but you can notice them by simply shifting the point of your focus.

feel gratitude

You can ask yourself:

  • What kind of blessings have I received lately?
  • How can I show my gratitude for those blessings?
  • Is there someone who deserves a thank you note from me?

Being able to say thank you for the small things, even in difficult times, helps you shift your focus from life’s challenges to life’s pleasures.

That way, your mind expands and supports you in finding solutions and ways to get unstuck and move forward.

Re-frame your negativity

Challenging times bring on lots of negativity.

There is no doubt about that.

And when you struggle for any reason, you will most likely start to sabotage yourself by creating sadness, anger, falling into despair, evoking regrets, and generating tons of unproductive negative thoughts.

But, changing your perspective is the best way to re-frame negativity. Trust me on this.

You have to remember that everything in life is somehow binary.

But in saying that, nothing is 100% binary either.

Nothing is purely good or bad, black or white.

There’s always the shade of grey outside of the apparently obvious.

feel gratitude

A different way of putting this would be,

It doesn’t matter how thin you slice it, there are always two sides to a story.

The problem is that when we are amidst a difficult situation or dealing with toxic people, we forget this reality.

We tend to become self-absorbed and lose all perspective, and consequently our power to make constructive and productive decisions within that difficult time.

But, this is something you must learn to do if you want to deal with challenging times most effectively.

Learn to look for and at the goodness and benefits of your current struggles and try to learn from them.

Turn your pain into lessons to learn from and make a plan with them.

Negative thoughts only have the power to hurt you even more, if you let them.

4. Keep a gratitude journal

This is likely the most popular gratitude practice.

We know that it comes with a variety of benefits, including better quality sleep, increased immunity, greater levels of resilience, and improved mood.

And all these benefits are needed when you’re going through a tough time in life.

Again, a journal helps us keep perspective in challenging times.

To start a gratitude journal, all you need is a few moments of undisturbed time, a willingness to reflect, and a way to capture your thoughts (notebook, phone, laptop). Simple.

feel gratitude

You can start by reflecting on the following questions:

  • What experiences in my life can I be grateful for?
  • What happened lately that makes me feel thankful?
  • What opportunities do I have today?
  • What have the significant others in my life done that I am grateful for?

Writing helps you to organise your thoughts, process information and experiences and supports you in accepting your challenging times by putting them in context.

It gives you much-needed perspective, as that is the first thing that goes when faced with difficult times.

5. Spread loving kindness

The way to do this is by finding a quiet spot, taking 5 minutes alone, and doing this simple, profound gratitude meditation exercise, which we can call: loving-kindness meditation.

The practice of loving-kindness meditation is designed to enhance the practitioner’s strength and capacity to feel unconditional gratitude by breathing gratitude into their heart and sending out energies of love, blessings, gratitude, and healing to others.

feel gratitude

Besides opening your heart to appreciation, this tool is great for building lasting compassion towards yourself and others.

Compassion is crucial if you’re looking to reduce stress and overcome obstacles in your life.

The love created this way has no conditions and it doesn’t need to be deserved in any way, which means you get to forgive, release, and let go of those who have hurt you so that you can move past it.

Watch the video below and follow the guided meditation by Tony Robbins to get you started:

Take away thoughts

The reality of life is that everyone who struggles gets stuck and experiences difficulty at some point or another.

That’s part of the journey.

But, the next time you find yourself having a tough time, remember that crisis is also a wonderful growth opportunity.

Yes, it might hurt at the time.

Yes, you might feel like you’re going to physically explode or implode.

Yes, it sucks big time when you’re in it.

But, it also passes.

So, embrace the challenge, reframe it with gratitude, and you’ll experience genuine growth AND a better result.

About the author

Gideon Hanekom

Gideon Hanekom is the creator of, a popular relationship blog that ranks among the top 50 relationship blogs in 2024. The website helps couples to create happier, healthier, and more intimate relationships. Gideon is a trained professional counsellor and holds post-graduate degrees in Theology and Psychology. His articles have also been featured on respected platforms such as and The Good Men Project.

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