Tough Times Gratitude: Learning to Love Everything

Tough Times and COVID-19

Tough times gratitude moves to the for in times like COVID -19 or earthquakes or business failures and other apparent disasters.


2 gratitude jourals, pink and blue for tough times journalingKeeping a Gratitude Journal during good times isn’t onerous. Sure it takes some discipline to write in your journal each day.


For sure, you need to find fresh approaches to your gratitude work even in those halcyon days.


However hard you found it to install that habit of gratitude appreciate you are way ahead of the curve now.


In so much as you have done all that, you’ve prepared yourself better than most for the pandemic that swirls all around you.


Hopefully, as the bad news rolled in from around the world you didn’t abandon your gratitude practice.


Because right now the times are calling for more from you. You are being asked to step up and take your gratitude to a whole new level: learning to love everything that happens to you.

What? Love Everything?

Man with empty pockets part of tough times gratitude “Wait a minute, Nick, surely you aren’t suggesting that I should be grateful for having my vacation canceled or losing my job or having to juggle the family finances to make ends meet?”


Okay, deep breath, and bear with me for a moment.

Surely you aren’t telling me that you are a sunny day gratitudiness? ( I need a better word here.) (Suggestions?)


Gratitude is not your fair-weather friend but a state of being that with practice you can hold even through the toughest times.


So how do you move your good times’ gratitude to tough times gratitude?

The same way you do everything else, one step at a time.


I want to start you out with a quote from a writer I greatly admire Ryan Holiday who said this in his bookThe Obstacle Is the Way: The Timeless Art of Turning Trials into Triumph



"To do great things, we need to be able to endure tragedy and setbacks. We got to love what we do and all that it entails, good and bad. We have to learn to find joy in every single thing that happens."

Finding the Good in the Bad

Tall order right?


Nevertheless, if you think about it when you experience one of those moments when gratitude overwhelmed you with sheer joy for everything in that moment, you accept at that moment all the tough, hard, discouraging things in your life.


Can you recall a time when you were suddenly overtaken with a wave of gratitude that swept everything else away?


Maybe it lasted all but a few seconds but in that moment you were fully present without a single care or unwelcomed thought.


The stature of liberty express how we feel when we can love everything

You knew liberty.


When you are truly grateful for everything in your life you harbor no regrets.


How do you get there?


The first step is something I’ve talked about often of late.


You can try to control everything in your life so bad things can’t happen.


That means you build a cage around you, a place where with a lot of work you can maybe keep the world from having an impact.


I highly recommend Michael Singer’s book The Untethered Soul: The Journey Beyond Yourself


Or click here for notification when I start the next Untethered Soul Book Study.


However, there is a better option.


One that recognizes that shit happens and it’s going to happen to you even if you are the most giving, loving caring person in the world.

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Then to recognize your point of control is in how you react to the shit life just threw at you.


You can carry on as a victim or you can decide to use what happens to you as a tool to forge your inner character.

“Everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of the human freedoms – to choose one's attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one's own way.”

When you decide to master only what you can control you can take the next step.


The next step is allowing your history to instruct you.


I had to practice tough times gratitude when a sheep ate my flower gardenWhen I talk about the subject of tough times gratitude I am reminded with a great deal of amusement when I berated my neighbor with an angry diatribe the time one of his sheep got into my flower garden and ate all the flower buds off all my plants that were getting ready to bloom.


All I could think about was all the hours I’d put into getting the garden to that point, that the beautiful flower beds were a complete disaster…that a whole year would pass before I got another shot at my dream garden.


Except for one thing…that year I had the most amazing garden beyond anything I’d imagined.




Because nature obliterated the disaster by sending up new flower buds on many more stems than would have typically happened.


My neighbor’s sheep had done me a very big favor.


Consequently, I had to be grateful for the disaster the sheep had wrought on my flower garden. I admit to feeling a little sheepish. (Sorry.)


Tough Times Gratitude Exercise

Therefore the first step is to look back at those disasters, upsets, defeats that might still haunt you today.

List them out on a sheet of paper. Then really take a look at how that moment changed you, how it shaped you. What did you learn from the experience?

You might not at first see the benefit of that experience. Don’t worry about that. Just write it down and let it be, let it marinate.


I remember early on in my career, then as a supervisor, I worked with a very difficult, rude, and annoying sales manager. He did his best to get me to quit. That year working for him had to be one of the toughest I ever faced.


To him I owe a steely will power not to give in, to keep going no matter what, and to trust my instincts.


I bet you can remember a moment like that in your life.

So get out a sheet of paper divide it in half.


Click here for a Free (no email requited) premade worksheet from BSM

On one side you write out all the bad things that have happened to you. Then on the other start looking a what good eventually came from that experience.


Some will be obvious, others will take time and thought.


However, as you work on the exercise you begin to build an awareness of how even the worst things in your life, built you, strengthen you and that you can’t help in retrospect to be grateful for the experience.


I owe that sales manager a great deal of gratitude for helping developing an inner strength that served me so well, time and time again in my life.


Try Looking At Another Way

Now let’s tackle this from a different direction.


Have you ever speculated what your life would be like if…?


What if I’d never married so and so then I wouldn’t have experienced that horrible divorce and would be so much further ahead today.


One it’s useless speculation.


We can’t change the past. 

Which goes back to the first dictum.


Don’t waste time on what you can’t change.


Second, we are limited by our perspective from seeing the big picture.


How many good things came out of that struggle?


 Is there someone in your life today that would not be in your life if that hadn’t happened?


See you could play that game for the rest of your life, and many people do.


For instance, if I hadn’t worked with that sales manager and found my inner strength and faith in myself I would never have met and worked with an exceptional team in the next store I worked in.


Many of those people are still very good friends even today.


I needed to go through him to get to my good.

What or whom do you need to go through to get to your good?


So there is a certain acceptance that comes from not fighting the past but learning from it, finding the gratitude in it, and finally learning to love all the things that have happened it your life.


What a gift to experience a life without regret.


You can.


I’ve learned that you can’t unravel one thread without destroying the entire tapestry.


Try the exercise.


Learn that tough times gratitude is just gratitude after all.


The quote below I think does a good job of summing up the subject.

We can see the 'bad' things that happen in our lives with gratitude and not with regret because we turn them form disaster to real benefit--from defeat to victory.

Finally there is this prayer which I think summarize what gratitude and forgiveness are all about. Sit with this one a truly marvel at  the state of grace in which this person live, even amid the horrors of a Nazi death camp. 

Lord, remember not only the men and women of good will but all those of ill will. Do not only remember all the suffering they subjected us to. Remember the fruits we brought forth thanks to this suffering--our comradeship, our loyalty, our humility, our courage and generosity, the greatness of heart that all this inspired. And when they come to judgment, let all these fruits we have borne be their reward and their forgiveness. Source A pray found in Ravensbruck concentration camp.

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