Gratitude in Hard Times

Woman journals

Closing the Distance: Gratitude, Joy, and Generosity during COVID-19

Gratitude in Hard Times

(Part One in Series)

The global pandemic has affected everything about our daily lives: the economy, work and school routines, leisure activities, and even toilet paper supplies. It’s easy to give in to fear and sadness when we’re inundated with daily news of catastrophe, but taking time to appreciate what we have can help us all cope with this difficult situation.

Finding Hope in the Darkness

Abundance Canada clients Patty and Clive Ollie’s world turned upside down when Clive was diagnosed with cancer a few years ago. All their plans were put on hold as he started chemotherapy and radiation. Despair threatened to infiltrate the household. Patience thinned. Thoughts darkened. Hope faltered. Patty and Clive started keeping a gratitude journal to combat the mounting anxiety.

“At times I felt like I had lost everything,” reflects Patty. “My choice was either to be angry or to find another purpose.” Each day, no matter what was happening, they set aside time to write out the things they were thankful for. Some days, the words came easy. On other days they stared at the blank page and wondered how there could be anything to write…but there was always something. Patty remembers, “That’s where the gratitude journal became so important to us. The time that we spent on it gave us both strength”.

Once we begin to take stock of the things for which we are grateful, our perspective shifts. Try keeping a gratitude journal to help cope in hard times.

A Gratitude Journal as Unique as You Are

Keeping a gratitude journal doesn’t have to be a complex or time-consuming task, it just needs to be authentic. It can take five minutes or five hours. It can be very private, or something you share. Your gratitude journal should be as unique as you are. Some possible options include:

  • Put that blank notebook you’ve been saving for “something good to write” to use as your new gratitude journal.
  • Tack a poster to the wall where the whole family can contribute “thankful thoughts” throughout the day.
  • Start a Gratitude Journal group on your favourite app to share gratitude stories, connect with friends, and be inspired.
  • Create a video journal (and if you want to, share it online).
  • Add a space to the top of your online calendar each day to jot down a list of things you’re thankful for.
  • Tweet or post a “thankful thought” each day.

No matter what form your gratitude journal takes, intentionally concentrating on the things you’re thankful for will help cultivate a positive outlook as you navigate the “new normal”.

Cultivate a Positive Attitude

Once we begin to take stock of the things for which we are grateful, our perspective shifts away from the things that we lack. Fear and anxiety start to lose their hold on our attention, making room in our hearts for joy, compassion, hope, and generosity.

Patty remembers, “It was the gratitude journal and the positive attitude it seemed to cultivate that nurtured my soul during those two years [that Clive battled cancer]. It wasn’t just that I became aware of simple things to be grateful for, but it was also the fact that I found so many profound things for which I could be deeply thankful to God.”[1]

What are you thankful for? It doesn’t take more than a few minutes to start a gratitude journal. Why not start today?

In Part Two, we’ll look at how a heart full of gratitude can reignite your generosity.

Contributed by Barbara Chambers
Director of Communications

[1] The Ollies’ story initially appeared in Abundance Canada’s publication Living Life Backwards
Abundance Canada. (2013). Gratitude Journal in Living Life Backwards (p.7). Winnipeg: Abundance Canada.

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