In today’s fast-paced, hectic world, it can be hard to slow down – but that’s why it’s more important than ever to find unique things to be grateful for every single day.
Sometimes, that’s easy. When life is going well, being grateful is a breeze. It isn’t hard to celebrate when things are going your way.
But sometimes, life gets tough. When you’re faced with lots of challenges, finding things to be grateful for can feel absolutely impossible. In those situations, you have to find unique things to be grateful for – things that aren’t always obvious but are meaningful.
In this article, we’ll answer some big questions about gratitude:
- What does gratitude actually mean?
- How do you show gratitude?
- How can you be thankful when life is hard?
- Can you be grateful and unhappy at the same time?
- What are some unique things to be grateful for?
What does it mean to be grateful?
To be grateful is to feel a deep sense of appreciation or thankfulness.
You can be grateful for virtually anything in your life: your health, your job, your favorite poem, your cup of coffee. You can be grateful for much-needed rain or a sunny day, an act of kindness performed by a total stranger, or a fleeting memory.
It takes intentional effort, but you can feel a sense of appreciation toward anything in your life.
How do you show gratitude?
Gratitude journals have become pretty popular over the last few years. They’re a great way to make gratitude a habit and focus on the little things you appreciate in life.
The one problem with gratitude journals is that they’re just for you.
There’s a lot of merit in expressing that gratitude toward other people too. You can brighten someone’s day by telling them (or showing them) just how much you appreciate them. And a byproduct of that is it makes you feel good too!
You can show gratitude in lots of different ways, depending on the time, the place, and the person involved.
Say thank you
Want to show gratitude to your grocery store clerk, barista, or customer service person? A simple “thank you” and a smile can go a long way. Want to take it one step up? Tell their manager just how great of a job they’re doing.
As someone who has worked in the retail and service industries, I can tell you that means a lot.
Share an experience
Not sure how to show gratitude to a family member? You can say thanks, share an experience together that the two of you would enjoy.
Take them to coffee at their favorite place. There’s nothing like spending quality time together.
Do a favor
Grateful for a friend’s presence in your life? Let them know by doing them a favor – without expecting anything in return. Grab them a gift that reminds you of them, surprise them with lunch… or just give them a hug!
If they don’t live near you, send a sweet text letting them know what you love about them and an ecard to get a coffee on you.
Leave a review
You can show gratitude for your favorite local shop or restaurant by leaving a positive review online or sending additional business their way.
As an online business owner, I can tell you that kind emails, comments, and sharing content you find inspiring or helpful is very meaningful to the content creator.
Want to show your thanks to your waitress or pizza delivery driver? A larger-than-normal tip will probably send the right message!
Food delivery workers have worked really hard this year and they aren’t well paid. If you can manage it, an extra tip is a very kind gesture.
Leave a treat
You can’t tip your FedEx or UPS delivery drivers, but you can leave a basket of snacks and drinks outside during busy periods to show your appreciation.
Many drivers don’t get very long breaks and with contactless delivery, they also aren’t getting as many thank yous. Leaving a treat is a reminder to those drivers that we depend on that we are thankful for the job that they do.
Unique and meaningful ways to show gratitude
There’s no wrong way to show gratitude. Let’s make that clear. A simple “thank you” is often enough!
But you don’t have to stop at “thanks.” Instead, you can find other ways to show your appreciation. By getting creative and thinking outside the box, you can show gratitude in a unique and meaningful way.
Not sure what that might look like? Here are a few meaningful and unique ways you can show someone a little appreciation:
Mail it in!
When’s the last time you got something meaningful in the mail? Pen a handwritten letter to show your appreciation and send it via good old-fashioned snail mail.
Gift them a book
If you’re trying to show gratitude to someone who loves to read, a book could be an excellent way to say “thank you!” Choose something that aligns with their interests, or recommend something that’s resonated with you. Add a handwritten note on the inside cover for a personal touch.
Book a Cameo
Want to show your appreciation in a BIG way? Get your recipient’s favorite celebrity to deliver the message by booking a Cameo from their favorite celebrity, and let them relay your message of gratitude.
Make it public
If you’re trying to show gratitude to someone who appreciates a little attention, find a way to make it happen. Give them a shout-out on their favorite radio station, coordinate a “thank you” message on the big screen at a sporting event, or spell it out on their front lawn!
When it comes to showing someone how much you care, your creativity is your only limitation.
Why can I feel unhappy but grateful at the same time?
Practicing gratitude can improve your life. That’s a fact.
But that doesn’t mean being grateful automatically means you’re happy. In fact, that’s far from the truth. You can be grateful and unhappy at the same time – and it’s easier than you think.
The last year is a testament to this. 2020 was a hard year. A pandemic certainly wasn’t in my plans. Vacations and celebrations were canceled. Toilet paper became virtually impossible to find. My kids and husband were suddenly home all the time.
For many people, there were additional challenges with job loss and people getting sick.
There was a lot to be upset about – let’s be clear.
But there was also a LOT to be grateful for. My health. My job. Grocery delivery services. The fact that family was only a Zoom call away.
Depending on your circumstances, it may be more difficult to find the things to be grateful for. It’s tough when it seems as though the universe has turned against you and luck is not on your side.
How to be thankful when life is hard
Earlier, I mentioned that you can be grateful about virtually anything in your life.
It’s easy to be grateful for positive things and celebrate the things that go well. But you can – and should – also look for things to be grateful for when things that aren’t so pleasant.
You can be grateful for the lessons learned through difficult seasons. You may not feel thankful for the things that did not go as planned, but you can still find good in the midst of it.
Not sure how to be thankful when life is hard and things just aren’t working out?
You just have to think outside the box. Being in the habit of practicing gratitude also makes it easier.
Unique things to be grateful for
Sometimes, finding things to be grateful for feels tough. This is especially true when things aren’t necessarily going your way.
But there are always plenty of things to be grateful for, as long as you’re willing to think creatively. There are plenty of unique things to be grateful for – you just have to shift your perspective.
How to be grateful: find your silver lining
Not sure how to be thankful during hard times? You aren’t alone. It isn’t always easy to be appreciative of the blessings in your life when it seems like nothing is going right. Most people find it impossible.
Those who can be thankful when life is hard have one thing in common.
They’ve figured out how to find the silver lining in virtually any situation.
The silver lining is essentially the glimmer of positivity in an otherwise negative situation. It’s the one thing that can be perceived as good in a whole lot of bad.
And as long as you can take a step back, examine the situation, and find a way to reframe it to put the focus on that silver lining – not whatever negativity is dragging you down – you can find a way to be grateful.
Unique ways to be grateful
By focusing on finding that silver lining, you can always come up with unique ways to be grateful.
When faced with a frustrating situation, you can pause, reflect, and reframe that frustration to focus on something to appreciate instead.
Not sure what that looks like? Here are some examples:
- You enter the bathroom and see that the kids have left the toothpaste cap off… AGAIN. Instead of getting irritated, focus on the bright side. This means the kids are actually brushing their teeth on their own. That’s a big win.
- You’re sick of finding dirty clothes everywhere and feel like you’re constantly doing laundry. You could be angry that nobody can seem to put their clothes into a laundry basket – or you could be grateful that your family is clothed.
- The car broke down and you had to dip into your emergency savings account to fix it. As much as it stinks, you can appreciate the fact that you have financial security and a vehicle.
- Your flight was cancelled due to a mechanical issue on the plane. On the one hand, you’re stuck in an airport instead of en route to your destination – but on the other hand, isn’t it better that they figured out something was wrong before the plane took off?
- You and your spouse finally had a fight about something that had been building for a couple of weeks. As upsetting as that argument might be, you can be grateful for the fact that you’ve said what needed to be said – and can begin to move forward.
Finding your silver lining
You can use this type of thinking to identify the silver lining in virtually any situation you’re experiencing. Even in times of tremendous loss, you can usually find at least one reason to be appreciative if you think about it long enough.
And fortunately, most of the time? You aren’t facing a tremendous loss. You’re stuck in traffic. You’ve burnt dinner. You’re making mountains out of molehills – and finding reasons to get worked up instead of embracing the silver lining. We are all prone to that.
Change the way you approach your challenges and keep that silver lining in mind, and you’ll find yourself with a positive mindset and a grateful heart.
We often take the small things for granted
It’s easy to dismiss the ‘small’ things in life and not even notice them. If we started paying attention to the little things in life to be grateful for, life would be much better.
It’s easy to be grateful for the big blessings that happen in life, but it’s important to pay attention to the little ones, too.
Your perspective will shifts as you continually look for ways to be grateful even through the challenging times. It’s all part of learning to live more intentionally.
Have you found your unique things to be grateful for? I hope this has given you some ideas on ways you can be thankful and ways you can express gratitude to others.
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