With a global pandemic and contested election going on, it can be easy to get caught up in the fear and anxiety it creates. Finding your footing to feel stable and peaceful can be challenging right now. Add to that the darkness of winter (it gets really dark and gray outside here in Oregon) and the stress of the holidays, and it can feel even more difficult.
Even though it’s hard, it is important to cultivate a sense of gratitude in times like these. Gratitude can cut through the negative and help you focus on what’s good. While it doesn’t take away the negative, it can make it feel lighter or lessen the sting it causes. Gratitude can also prevent things from snowballing and become worse. Finally, it can add a touch of warmth which has the power to change the feel of an entire room or the course of a day.
What Is Gratitude
Hopefully, you’re curious about gratitude now, if you weren’t already! Let me take a moment to define and describe gratitude so we know what it is we’re aiming for.
Gratitude is a feeling and attitude about the world that transcends the present circumstances. It’s a feeling because it can come and go, giving you a short-term sense of thankfulness. It’s also an attitude that can extend beyond a short-term feeling and above the current situation. Gratitude is finding what is good and appreciating it. It’s allowing yourself to be filled with this appreciation despite circumstances.
Here’s an easy example: You set your smartphone down in a public place and forget to pick it up. A good Samaritan notices it, grabs it and catches up with you to return your device to you. At that moment, you can be grateful for that person for noticing your mistake. You can be grateful for their good intentions, and grateful they did not just steal your phone to profit from it themselves. You can also be grateful to be reunited with the device that carries so much of your life and information on it. All of these would be gratitude.
Here’s a more challenging example: You apply for a new position within your company, interview for it, make the top 3, but then do not get the position. The hiring manager gives you honest feedback about why you were not selected, as well as ways you could grow in order to be a more qualified candidate next time. While painful, you can be grateful for the manager’s honesty about the process. You can be grateful for the experience because you learned more about yourself and how you might need to grow. You can be grateful this did not cost you your job, and that you can return to the position you already had but with more resolve.
In both of these examples, something bad happened but the opportunity for gratitude was still there. In the second example, this might be harder to find and may take time to get to, but it is there.
Now that we understand what gratitude is and why it’s important, let’s discuss how to cultivate it. Not only that – let’s talk about cultivating it in a world full of chaos and uncertainty.
Keep in mind as we pursue gratitude that the negative does not have to disappear and no amount of negativity can take away the power of being grateful.
Steps for Practicing Gratitude in Oregon
First, identify the negative. It always bothers me when people try to jump to the silver lining of a bad situation without acknowledging how bad it is. Start with that – acknowledge what’s hard about the present circumstances. Be honest about it and about how you feel. Allow yourself time and space to be upset without wallowing in it or dwelling on it too long.
Next, commit to set those thoughts and feelings aside. You’re not pretending they don’t exist or putting your head in the sand. You’re simply zooming out your perspective to see more of the picture than you currently are. As you put the negative aside, it will want to find a way back into your mind and emotions. You may need to practice this step repeatedly until it finally stays put.
With the negative aside, look at the situation from a different perspective and this time, try to see things differently than before. What else happened that you might not have noticed the first time? Was there anything good that was happening? Was there anyone who was kind or good? Could that person or those events have any impact on you or the situation, even if it didn’t change the outcome?
Lastly, practice. It takes repeated effort to find things you might be thankful for or that were beneficial, especially in the midst of difficulty. Again, the point is to not focus on the negative but to see past it (not ignoring it) to what’s underneath. Often there is much to be thankful for that is good.
CONSIDER ONLINE THERAPY IN OREGON
Our Clackamas and Hillsboro based counselors are excited to work with you, wherever you are in Oregon. Anxiety, stress, trauma, depression, and conflict do not have to rule your life. We can help you get back on track in a way that aligns with your faith and values. When you are ready to start online Christian counseling in Oregon, follow these simple steps:
- Learn about our therapy team in Hillsboro and our caring counselors in Clackamas
- Schedule an appointment with your preferred therapist, or contact us with questions
- Begin feeling more calm, confident, and peaceful, from the comfort of your home.
OTHER MENTAL HEALTH SERVICES AT LIFE DISCOVERY COUNSELING IN OREGON
No matter what you want to cover in online therapy, we know that you may have more concerns to talk about. Or, you might know someone else who does. If you are in Clackamas, Happy Valley, Damascus, or Hillsboro, we can help you in person at one of our comfortable therapy clinics. Christian counseling is the cornerstone of our approach to therapy. Not only do we see adults, but children in counseling too. We also work with depression treatment, anxiety therapy, trauma therapy and PTSD treatment, relationship issues, marriage problems, and postpartum counseling. No matter where you are in the state, we can provide the support you need. Once you’re ready to start, we’re ready to meet you. Let’s connect!