Monday, 20 June 2016

Weekly Column: Practicing Gratitude in Hard Times

Practicing Gratitude in Hard Times

For many area residents, life has changed drastically in the last year and a half since the price of oil dropped. Families that were once confident about how much money they could spend every month are now unsure how they will pay for the month’s bare necessities. It can get overwhelming, and the stress that people are feeling is very real. Prescribing positive thinking in the face of such uncertainty is not meant to dismiss your apprehension, but focusing on the good in your life can really bring comfort in hard times.

Eyes on the Horizon

It is easy to get dragged down by daily worries about bills and money, and decisions regarding what to sell and what to try to keep. No one can dispute the stress that this situation can bring. To help yourself through this difficult time, focus instead on where you hope to end up when the dust settles. Are you making a career change? Moving? Staying? Make plans and set goals for your future and slowly let the past fall behind you where it belongs. It may not remove your worries but it will prevent them from robbing you of your daily joys.

3 Things, Every Day

Make it a habit to find three things, every day, that you can be grateful for. Is your family healthy? Are you able to spend more time with your kids? Have you found a bit of temporary employment? Is your spouse making an effort to help more? As you learn to practice gratitude more often you should naturally begin to notice the small kindnesses occurring around you all the time. Did someone let you into traffic when you were trying to turn onto highway 17? Gratitude. Allow you to take your couple of items through the checkout ahead of their huge cartload of groceries? Now that’s classy. Did someone smile and talk to your crying child rather than act annoyed? Do you feel better yet?
Noticing and feeling grateful for the little things can take your day from crummy to tolerable, or tolerable to joyous, if you allow yourself to look for the good.

“Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. It turns what we have into enough, and more. It turns denial into acceptance, chaos to order, confusion to clarity. It can turn a meal into a feast, a house into a home, a stranger into a friend.”  -Melody Beattie

Pay It Forward

Once you are more conscious of the things you have to be grateful for (and hopefully you are finding more than three per day), why not pass that feeling along to someone that needs it? When things seem worst for you, try helping someone else and notice how your own situation doesn’t seem as bleak.

What Makes You Stronger?

It helps in every way for couples and families to be on the same page. If you have sat down as a family to prepare a budget and are working on it as a team, have you also taken the time to thank each other for hanging in there? Have you acknowledged that your spouse is perhaps stepping out of his or her comfort zone in applying for every job possible? Or have you said thank you lately to the parent or grand parent who is going the extra mile to help out? Families are making sacrifices to get through an unpredictable time—Have you told your kids that no matter what the future brings you have everything you need, together? When you show appreciation it gives every one a break from worrying.

“Develop an attitude of gratitude, and give thanks for everything that happens to you, knowing that every step forward is a big step toward achieving something bigger and better than your current situation.” –Brian Tracy

No one would choose to have their job disappear without warning, and there is not necessarily a storybook ending for everyone coming out of this economic downturn. Telling the wrong person “This Too Shall Pass” might get you a smack in the lips. But it will pass, won’t it? The question is, will you lose yourself in the process or will you come out the other side stronger, wiser, and a more appreciative member of the community?

This is a difficult time for many. People are adjusting to a new normal where they don’t have the financial security they are used to. The strain can be too much for even the most positive to bear. If you are having trouble coping, or know someone who is struggling, contact the Rural Distress Centre Hotline at 1.800.232.7288 or the Mental Health Helpline (toll free in AB) at 1.877.303.2642. Remember that a little kindness might make all the difference for someone who needs it today.


  1. Jill this is such a good post! It's one to archive and bring out on a yearly basis - regardless of the economic cycle we are in.

    1. Thank you Pru :) I hope that it helped a few people feel more positive about what they have and are still achieving:)