Practicing Gratitude in Challenging Times

Hello and welcome to the annual gratitude episode here on the Art of Homeschooling podcast, all about practicing gratitude in challenging times.

I’m writing and recording this episode at Thanksgiving time here in the US. And I want to say that I’m so grateful you’re here today.

Right now, the world feels extra chaotic and challenging. It’s easy to lose sight of the small joys and blessings that life brings.

During challenging times like this, we can sometimes feel hopeless, sad, discouraged, or even overwhelmed.

Listen in as I share a few thoughts about practicing gratitude during challenging times.

The Power of Gratitude

Gratitude can be especially powerful during challenging times.

Author and gratitude expert Robert Emmons says that crisis conditions like those experienced by the Pilgrims during the 1600s are really the times when we have the most to gain by a grateful perspective on life.

In the face of demoralization, gratitude has the power to energize. In the face of brokenness, gratitude has the power to heal. In the face of despair, gratitude has the power to bring hope. Gratitude can help us cope with hard times.” 

~ roberT emmons

Even when we don’t feel like being grateful, there are ways to shift our thinking about difficult situations and feel more connected to others, to nature, and to something larger than ourselves.

Most importantly, we can find gratitude in the simple, everyday blessings during challenging times.

Check out this inspiring article for more reading on the topic of gratitude: How to Live with a Grateful Heart Amongst a Chaotic World

“As long as you are breathing there is more right with you than wrong…”

~ jon kabat-zinn

Gratitude is Paying Attention

Sometimes we can get into patterns of negative thinking and gratitude has the power to help us change these negative thought patterns and even rewire our brains.

More here: The Gratitude Project: How the Science of Thankfulness Can Rewire Our Brains for Resilience, Optimism, and the Greater Good.

And Art of Homeschooling team member Sarah recommends Consolations: The Solace, Nourishment and Underlying Meaning of Everyday Words by David Whyte.

Whyte writes that gratitude is all about paying attention…

Gratitude is not a passive response to something we have been given, gratitude arises from paying attention, from being awake in the presence of everything that lives within and without us…Gratitude is the awareness that millions of things come together and live together and mesh together and breathe together in order for us to take even one more breath of air, that the underlying gift of life and incarnation as a participating human being is a privilege; that we are miraculously part of something rather than nothing. Even if that something is temporarily pain or despair, we inhabit a living world, with real faces, real voices, laughter, the color blue, the green of the fields, the freshness of a cold wind, or the tawny hue of a winter landscape.

Thankfulness finds its full measure in generosity of presence, both through participation and witness. Thanksgiving happens when our sense of presence meets all other presences.” ~ David Whyte

That’s really what we’re after, isn’t it? To be present to what is, to whatever comes. I have some other resources to suggest to you today.

Gratitude & Children

Now I know that when we think about our children, sometimes we notice that they’re very demanding and don’t seem very grateful for all we do for them. 

And I don’t know about you, but this can really get under my skin!

The truth is that the opposite of gratitude is entitlement. And when our children express entitlement ~ the belief that they have a right to something or are deserving of privileges or special treatment ~ we often feel angry or resentful. 

I have a super helpful resource to recommend concerning entitled kids. If you sometimes feel like your kids act like entitled little rascals, check it out here.

Practicing Gratitude in Challenging Times

Those are my thoughts about practicing gratitude in a challenging world.

Check out more resources below for exploring gratitude during challenging times.

I’ll leave you with this quote from Dr. Robert Holden, 

The miracle of gratitude is that it shifts your perception to such an extent that it changes the world you see.”

~Dr. Robert Holden

Happy Thanksgiving to those of you celebrating. Let’s foster the emotion of gratitude even in challenging times. And may your gratitude grow every day.

Thanks so much for joining me. I’m so very grateful for you and the important work you’re doing in the world helping to raise tiny humans.

More Gratitude Resources

  • Robert Emmons wrote a book called Gratitude Works! in which he talks about how gratitude can actually help us get through challenging times.
  • You can download the Happiness Calendar for Educators from Greater Good Magazine to help you foster gratitude in your family. It’s a printable calendar for the month of November with one simple activity to do each day, like interview an elder about gratitude or take a gratitude walk.
  • Greater Good also has The Science of Happiness Podcast
  • As well as The Happiness Break Podcast
  • Here’s the 2022 Art of Homeschooling gratitude episode: Episode #109: Empowered by Gratitude, where I talk about how we can start really really small with gratitude and that it grows.
  • And here’s the 2021 gratitude episode: Episode #59: What are You Grateful For? where I talk about finding your own relationship with gratitude and what it means to you. And there are some beautiful gratitude Inspiration Cards you can download.
  • From 2020, the very first year of the Art of Homeschooling Podcast: Episode #7: Practicing Gratitude as a Family where I offer 3 ways to practice gratitude with your family, simple and fun activities that can help make gratitude more tangible.
  • And finally, you can try this gratitude quiz from The Greater Good where you can find out how compassionate, generous, grateful, or forgiving you are:

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