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Finding Gratitude During Heartache

Finding Gratitude During Heartache, gratitude in middle age, gratitude over 50
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Intellectually, we know that we have a lot for which to be grateful. However, when we are going through a difficult time, it’s difficult to find anything good in the pain. Long-term unemployment, death of a loved one, foreclosure, illness, overwhelming debt — when one or more of these factors looms in our lives, how can we possibly find a way to still give thanks?

Moving from despair to anger can help you take action, but living in an continual state of anger isn’t easy, either.

It is helpful to keep a Gratitude Journal.  Such a journal helps you climb out of the pit and see positive patterns that you want to reinforce.  But sometimes, it’s hard to get to the point where you can even start such a journal.

Step 1. Look for Something Positive. Can’t find anything? Go to Step 2.

Step 2.  Ritualize What Isn’t Working.  Write down a list of everything that is NOT working in your life, everything that fills you with anger, despair, etc. Pour it all out on a piece of paper. Now, put it in a fire safe container, light a match, and burn that list. Yup, all those nasty things are going up in smoke. You’re releasing them. Another way to do this is to write the list on a strip of toilet paper and flush it. You are performing a physical action that is a symbolic release, telling your subconscious it is time to let go. Your subconscious always lives in the present, according to PhD Marta Hiatt in her book MIND MAGIC.

Step 3.  Repeat Step 1.  Look for something positive.  Still having trouble?  Go to Step 4.

Step 4. You’re Alive. Even if things are bleak, at this moment, you are alive (or you couldn’t read these words).  That is something for which to be grateful.

Step 5. Think of Something That Gives You Pleasure. Beaches and rainbows aren’t cheesy. They’re helpful.

Step 6. Interact. You feel isolated, you isolate yourself, which makes you feel worse, and it spirals. Take a walk and smile at people you pass. Go to the library, choose a book, interact with the librarian. Volunteer at an animal shelter or a soup kitchen or any other organization whose mission you believe in. Doing something for someone else even when you feel low will give you a few hours’ respite from whatever your own problems are. If you are too ill to leave the house, interact on social media, or watch a few videos on Funny or Die.

Laugh.  Find a reason to laugh and the world lights up.

Know This is Temporary. Day becomes night becomes day. Seasons change. So will the circumstances of your life. Find small things for which to be grateful and build on them.

Resources: has a terrific article breaking down exactly how stress breaks you down, on multiple levels (



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