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Can You Still Be Grateful When Your Life Sucks?

As much as I love life’s good surprises, where it is easy to identify the things that we are grateful for, there will always be THAT day where life just wants to give us a hard time. But no matter what those challenges are, and there may not be anything you can do about it, always remember that you do have control over what you choose to think and do next and what there is to be grateful for.

Have you got up in the morning feeling great and full of positivity? It’s nice, right? Another day that maybe life is on your side again. You pick an outfit that truly reflects the vibrancy of your aura. You make your coffee and feel the bliss as you get the perfect balance of how you want it to be. You get out of your house. Suddenly the rain starts to pour. Upon checking your bag you realize you forgot your umbrella. As you wait for the bus, a car passes through a deep puddle, splashing the side of the road and throwing mud onto your clothes.

This is just one scenario where we try to calm ourselves while we whisper under our breath: “my life blows” or even “life sucks” in general. From the little things like forgetting your umbrella, unexpected traffic to bigger problems, like losing your job, the sudden death of your dog, not being able to pay rent that results in the 1-week notice of eviction.

Can you still be grateful even when many things are going wrong in your life? We say YES you can, all you need is a different perspective, we will cover this in more detail later in the article. But first, let’s explore why you may feel that way and why is it hard to sometimes express gratitude.

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When we are in a bad place, where we feel like things are chaotic and out of control is when we are most likely to feel ungrateful and unhappy with our life? So, maybe it sucks or maybe it doesn’t.

If you think that your life sucks, it is a result of these 2 things: the way you’re thinking about what is happening and your action or solution to it. To change the conclusion that your life sucks, you have to change your way of thinking and acting.

Creating a solution or a way to move forward is a process. It’s not easy especially when you are in a tough situation. But no matter how you are mentally and emotionally affected by these negative experiences, it’s still important to evaluate your perception of the situation and to think about what do you do in tough times to regain the feeling of gratitude that can affect how we see our life overall. 

 “A smooth sea never made a skilled sailor.” 

–Franklin Roosevelt

Life isn’t just smooth sailing, as there will always be big waves of challenges. Although it isn’t permanent, right? After the rain, the sun is shining. What comes after being in a tough situation and facing it? Should we really be grateful it happened?

It’s not always easy to be grateful that we have to go through a difficult moment to value the lessons we learned because generally speaking, expressing gratitude is simple yet so hard. It is simple because all you have to do is feel grateful for something. But sometimes it is hard to identify that something because our difficulties outweigh our achievements. Looking at a bigger picture, yes, there is something to be grateful for when we are in a tough situation but we just have to come up with our own approach to express our gratitude.

What can I do to feel gratitude when challenges happen?

You may still wonder “but how can I be happy in hard times?”– it is by taking action and working on solutions to your problems. Being optimistic helps us to look from a positive point of view, being more open to new options, opportunities, as well as acquiring new skills. To take small positive steps even when all around us seems hopeless can be the key to turning things around.

In this article, we’d like to share 5 things you can do when challenges happen, and life sucks, to feel better and start feeling gratitude again:

There are countless times when other people tell you to “just look on the brighter side” or “just get over it”. Or sometimes it is us, who are saying these things to ourselves. We often ignore or deny there is a problem, and try to belittle the issues. We continue to try to work things out even if everything is in chaos or we may even repress and pretend it’s not happening.

WHAT YOU CAN DO: It is more effective is to acknowledge and recognize what you are currently going through and what you feel about it rather than thinking that this is just a phase or a minor issue. It’s okay to be sad or frustrated. Just admit that you feel this way because by acknowledging the situation and what we feel about it, we get to be more conscious with ourselves and with everything around us which can help us understand or analyze and evaluate the situation, from a better more perspective.

It’s easy to ask “why me?” or “why is this happening?”. But these questions take us to the problem and often result in us blaming ourselves, other people or something outside of ourselves. We remove ourselves as responsible at all. We become obsessed with the problem which can make us more frustrated.  

WHAT YOU CAN DO: It’s fine to look back, review and evaluate what we have done but we should focus more on the next steps. With a quick peek on what happened, we can identify the mistakes and focus on how we are going to come up with an alternative solution as we move on. Also through this strategy, our feelings of frustration can shift to being hopeful and determined as we change our behavior in tackling the situation, as well as our mindset in developing a plan.

As you reflect on your goals or your motivation to achieve something, take an honest look at what is making you feel your life sucks. Maybe you set the bar so high that you got lost? Or maybe you have a list of things to do but no specific goal.

WHAT YOU CAN DO: They say nothing is impossible and that you should reach for the stars, but it is also important to ask ourselves these 2 questions: “Is this manageable?” and “Is this doable?”.

 Through answering these questions, we can set realistic, achievable goals, and will feel a sense of progress, and be less miserable about life in general.

“Is this manageable?” – If yes, then great! But don’t forget to come up with the specific goal that you want to achieve. If your goal is vague, you may easily give up or have inconsistencies as you go along. If you think you cannot do this, separate your long-term goal and create smaller short-term goals or the steps that you can do that will lead you to your long term goal. This way you will not overwhelm yourself and you will have the consistency that will take you further.

“Is this doable?” – It can feel a long road to reach our goals, and by creating a measurement of our progress such as a tracker or a to-do list, we are aware of what has been done and what is next. Along the way, you might get tired and take a break, by having a tracker you can easily go back from where you stopped and continue working from there. You could set deadlines on an agenda as this will help you have a sense of urgency that will encourage you to work consistently. 

Sometimes we have a tendency to stick with what we are comfortable and familiar with but what we don’t realize is that being in the same routine can make us think that life sucks because we don’t get to appreciate other things that aren’t part of that routine. In dealing with tough situations, maybe we are doing the same thing; using the same solution that we thought was effective because previously, it did work, but this time what we are comfortable and familiar with isn’t working anymore.

WHAT YOU CAN DO: Different challenges require different solutions. Identify what you can change, the things that you can control and also think about what you can’t change that includes your past and other people involved. By incorporating what we have learned and enhancing the skills that we have, trying a different approach, or asking others’ for help, may give you other suggestions and insights. This can motivate you, and help to break our old patterns that can successfully overcome these challenges in an instant and we can then be grateful for the growth and the lessons it has brought us.

Oftentimes, there are just problems that we cannot solve no matter how hard we work on it continuously. We strategize every detail that might lead to its solution and believe we might come up with a better ending. But as we try to fix it, we are just making more and more mistakes that have gone completely off track and we cannot just accept it.

WHAT YOU CAN DO: It’s not easy to reboot or start all over again, it takes a lot of courage. As the things that we cannot control outweigh what we can, we might think that we just wasted a lot of time and effort but the truth is we didn’t. By using the path we’ve just been following as an example, we can restart and take a completely new and different perspective, meeting new people and expose ourselves to new influences. Being motivated with a new goal, and having a new way of doing things, we just might have a new basis of where to look and find gratitude in seeing things afresh.

Final thoughts

“Gratitude is a powerful catalyst for happiness. It’s the spark that lights a fire of joy in your soul.” 

–Amy Collette

It is not easy to tell ourselves to just be thankful and be happy, as our emotions usually take over the situation. But be mindful that these feelings are the result of how we absorb and perceive each situation. It’s not that we need to be in a bad situation first to have the development that we need, but from a larger perspective, we can consider it as a step in the process.

Sometimes life is hard but the goal isn’t about winning or being perfect in life but rather enjoy it the best way we can and experience genuine happiness. It won’t be easy but by gaining lessons from every experience we have and using it to look at life in a  way that’s good for us and how we want it to be, then life might not be that hard after all­ – but rather it’s just challenging.

Tommy P.
Tommy P.

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