When we go through a break up or divorce, sometimes it’s just easier to focus on what’s wrong with you and your life vs. what’s positive and going well. When we take the time to consider the good instead of focusing on the bad, we start to see how beautiful life is and how we are taking steps to move forward.
I recently read an article where Robert Emmons, Ph.D., a leading scientific expert on gratitude, talked about how in times of crisis, gratefulness is not only helpful, but essential. He states that, “It is precisely under crisis conditions 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. In other words, gratitude can help us cope with hard times.”
Whether you’re currently working with a mediator or divorce lawyer, wondering if you should file divorce papers or looking at your divorce as something deep in your past, here are five ways to keep an attitude of gratitude:
Joining a divorce support group can be an uplifting experience for many people who are going through divorce. Not only do you gain confidence from the support of others facing the same situation, but also you may gain a community of women who allow you to see you are notalone. And in the process, you begin to bolster your self-esteem and self-love. Being vulnerable in sharing your struggles and offering support will help keep things in perspective and remind you of what’s truly important.
We should all be reminded to do this daily! It can be as simple as making a list of things you are thankful for: kids, career, health, friends, home, etc. Try and focus on things that remain after divorce, even if those things change in some way. Print out encouraging quotes to place on your mirror, in your car or anywhere you’ll be reminded to stay positive. Journal about what you DID do instead of focusing on what you didn’t. Begin a gratitude practice – either in the morning or at night – and think of at least 5 things you are grateful for. Some mornings its my cup of coffee, others its my children and family. Sometimes having sunshine or my dog. We all have at least one thing that brings us joy. Embrace it vs. judge it. See it as neutral without putting a positive or negative spin on it.
One of my favorite authors and researchers, Brené Brown, writes about in her book The Gifts of Imperfection that without exception,every person who described living a joyful life actively practiced gratitude. Why? Because when you focus on the positives in the day or your life you feel joy from things you don’t allow yourself to feel. To begin your own practice you have so many options such as keeping a gratitude journal, writing thank you letters, beginning a meditation practice, taking daily walks, to name a few. It is about actively participating in a gratitude practice every single day.
Brown suggests that we are a nation hungry for more joy, because we are starving from a lack of gratitude. She goes on to say, “If we are not practicing gratitude and allowing ourselves to know joy, we are missing out on the two things that will actually sustain us during the inevitable hard times.”
Our energy goes where our thoughts are, and if you continue to focus on misery, then that is what you'll experience. Practicing gratitude is like exercising a new muscle – it gets easier as time goes on. Looking at what I am thankful for over the last several weeks has motivated me to increase these activities in my life that lead to more fulfillment. And most importantly, I look for things to be grateful for, which in turn increases my joy in life. When you look for the positives, you'll find them
Beginning to see the good in your life helps to change the focus from "poor me" aka victim mentality to seeing yourself becoming a joyful and empowered person. This time of upheaval will pass, but while you’re in it, find gratitude to carve the road ahead more easily.