How to Practice Gratitude When Your World is Falling Apart

Trigger warning: this post involves frank discussion of a way to deal with very dark times, including contemplation of suicide.

When life feels extremely heavy it can be a struggle to keep moving in the right direction, let alone practice gratitude. Simply getting out of bed in the morning feels like an overwhelming task. But reminding yourself of one thing as you navigate each of life’s ups and downs can be profoundly impactful. Even during the darkest moments, when life doesn’t feel worth living, there is always something for which to be grateful.

Gratitude is something most of us take for granted until we can no longer find it in our lives. Over the years I’ve discovered that life is like an ocean wave. At times we feel like we can be, do, and have anything. This is when we’re able to lift ourselves up and express gratitude for the joy in our lives.

However, sometimes as quickly as the wave peaks, it crashes down with a vengeance. For me, this is when gratitude is the most important. Finding anything I can to be grateful for becomes critical to inching my way closer to the peak of the next wave. For someone considering suicide, gratitude can be a way to step outside of their current situation and find some hope.

Practicing Gratitude Consistently

So, rather than only focusing on the good in my life when things are at an all-time high, I choose to practice gratitude during the lowest times, too. It isn’t always easy, but it’s certainly possible. If I’m feeling especially sad I’ll stop what I’m doing and take a few moments to practice being grateful.

I think about how grateful I am that I can breathe fresh air and walk on my own two feet. I feel grateful for the sturdy floor under my feet and my eyes that can see that floor. I might find gratitude in a quick moment of silence or a smile I receive on the street.

Practicing gratitude consistently helps those harder waves feel more bearable. Try setting a timer for 30 seconds today and think of every little (and big) thing for which you’re grateful. Make this a daily ritual and see how it changes your overall outlook. I hope you’re like me and realize you can practice gratitude whenever you want.

If you feel that you may hurt yourself or someone else, call 9-1-1 immediately.

For more information on suicide, see our suicide informationresources and support section. For additional mental health help, please see our mental health hotline numbers and referral information section.

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