Episode 90: 10 Ways to Create Gratitude During Difficult Times

It can be very hard to find reasons to be thankful for the life we have especially in this time of a great difficulty.  Dr. Debra shares 10 ways that we can discover the gratitude for what we have.

“Check for silver linings. The most difficult life challenges come with some benefit.” – Dr. Debra Muth

Don’t miss these key points:

[2:32] The difficulty to find the bright side of life

[6:32] Acknowledging the good in life amplifies positive emotions

[8:25] How to we choose to look at an event affects our outlook

[12:27] 10 tips to find the gratitude within us

[21:34] Bringing the family together this Thanksgiving in a time of social distancing and isolation


Transcript for Episode 90: 10 Way to Create Gratitude During Difficult Times.

What an exciting week we’re gonna have here at Let’s Talk Wellness Now. I’m so thankful for everyone who listens in, who shows up, who shares our podcast, who is learning from us, and learning about health, wellness, longevity, everything. It is such an empowering time for us to be able to have the ability to learn and grow and just have freedom in the world. Now I know 2020 has been an extremely challenging time for everyone. And the idea of freedom has been strained for many of us who are locked down, safer at home, working from home, homeschooling, the whole nine yards. It’s been a huge challenge. But this is the week of Thanksgiving and I want to talk about 10 ways to be a more thankful person. And I want you to share with us on our show notes or on our Facebook page or Instagram page what it is that you’re thankful for this year in 2020.

You know, people have been researching and studying the intervention of positive outcomes in the health and wellbeing arena for a very, very long time. What we know is that people who are happy, optimistic, thankful, grateful-they actually have a better functioning immune system. It lowers your blood pressure, it helps to be more optimistic, it decreases depression, and truly improves our love life when we’re in a very thankful, grateful, loving time. And for some of us, it takes a lot of effort to look on the bright side of things, to be grateful and thankful, to see the good things that are happening in the world. And for others, it’s very hard. You know, we’re bombarded with the news media that never seems to show anything positive. It’s always the negative stuff. And remember, people, that’s what sells news. That’s why they don’t put a lot of positive things on the news media. But there are amazing people in this world doing things that are so heartfelt and so wonderful. And this last year, in doing the podcast, I have had the opportunity to meet with some of the most wonderful people who are really out there, changing people’s lives doing something different, helping one another cope, helping people be who they want to be, and really just reach their maximum potential of who they can be, psychologically, spiritually and physically. And I am so grateful to have been able to have those people touch my lives, teach me things that I don’t know, and make new friends. So it’s just been a humbling and honoring experience to be your podcast guest hosts.

So let’s talk about gratitude. Let’s talk about the 10 things for gratitude. You know, I’m going to start with the gratitude of health because that’s where I am is totally in health and wellness field. That’s where I’m going to start. So there are a lot of direct and indirect ways that we can look at health. And we can be grateful to have the ability to relax, to meditate, to listen to music, all of these things, improve the immune system, decrease the blood pressure, we can cultivate better healthy habits. And you know, this is the time of the year that we really start thinking about health and wellness and what am I going to do for next year, and even more so this year, because many of us have put on the “COVID-15”. And so we’re looking at how we can change our lives going forward in 2021 to have a healthier, more nutritious life: exercise regularly, stay optimistic in our attitude, really create a healing space and a healing attitude in our world and in our lives.

So first and foremost, I think we have to be grateful that we get this opportunity to wake up every day in this amazing world, we get to wake up, we get to go to work, we get to be with our families, either by zoom or in person. We we can brush our teeth, right, we can walk to the bathroom! My mom’s 81 and she’s grateful every day that she can still get up and brush her teeth and walk to the bathroom and take care of herself and live on her own. So those are things that we oftentimes take for granted. And we need to be grateful for the health that we have, that we can breathe, that we can see, that we can hear. And for those of us who can’t see or hear, you have other amazing senses that bring information into you so you can be part of society and part of the normal world.

The next thing to be grateful for is joy. Robert Emmons is an internationally renowned scientific expert on gratitude. And he actually found that acknowledging the good in life has a tendency to amplify positive emotions such as joy and contentment, because it helps slow us down. And so I think it’s very easy for us to choose to be unhappy, miserable, crabby. Or, we can choose to be happy and joyful, and, you know, look at life full instead of half empty. It’s really about being optimistic, and how we perceive our lives. And you’ve heard me talk about this on other shows, perception is everything, we can notice the gorgeous sunrise, and the wonderful sunsets that we get every single night, and there are never two that are the same. Or we can look at it and say, “the sun’s going down, that means it’s going to be dark soon and we’re going to have to go to bed.” Or, in our case, “it’s dark for the next six hours and I don’t know what I’m going to do with myself.” Or you can look at it and you can say, look at the gift we’ve been given by God, the universe, your higher power, whatever you want to call it, at this beautiful skyline, how the sun is setting, how it’s reflecting off the trees, how their shadows in different places. We have that innate ability, being able to enjoy a warm cup of coffee in between your hands, the pleasure of the first sip, or the smell of it in the morning when you’re waking up. We can rush from activity to activity, and never pay attention to any of these things. Or, we can take that split second. And just enjoy the beauty of what we have.

You know gratitude in my mind is resilient. It takes a lot of work for us to live a life of gratitude. It’s so simple to look at those negative processes and negative stories and all of those things. We all have betrayal in our lives. We all have trauma of some kind that we live through in our lives, whether it be big or small. But how we choose to heal from that process makes all the difference in the world. How we choose to look at that event. Do we look at that event as a gift? Because it means we’re going to have something bigger and better on the other side? Do we look at it as a curse? And it’s destroyed our whole lives? Or do we look at it as just a moment in time and that’s it. It takes resilience to have gratitude. I like to reflect a lot on the story of the Holocaust survivors because so many of them tell their stories. And they remember most the strong feelings of gratitude that they had for food, shelter and clothing that was offered to them. They had a sense of thankfulness for the small blessings that helped them maintain their humanity despite such a horrific tragedy that they were living through and even people with life threatening illnesses, you know, they can find positive emotions. And when they find those positive emotions, and they practice it on a regular basis, miracles can happen. For those of you who’ve heard me talk about this before, my best friend Jan passed away this year in May of a very aggressive female cancer. She only survived 10 months. We expected about that amount of time knowing her diagnosis. And it was very sad. It was very earth shattering for all of us. She was only 56 years old. But I will tell you, this is a woman I spoke to every single day for 17 years. And the last year that I had with her we talked sometimes more than once a day. She was always so positive, and always so resilient. And always so grateful. And she made sure she told everyone in her life, how important they were to her, how special they were, what they meant to her, the gifts that they gave her. And it really hit me in thinking that why do we only do this when we believe there’s only a short time left of our life? Why don’t we do this every single day so that people that are around us every day know how much we appreciate them, know how much we love them know how important they are to us? How much better would this world be if we could tell people those things every single day? And I know some of you naysayers are going to say but then they’re going to expect it every day and then I’m going to forget and then it’s not going to be special. I say hogwash to you all. That is hogwash. Every one of us needs to know how important we are, how special we are, how wonderful we are, how beautiful we are, how loved we are, every single day. Every single day, we need to hear it. And that’s what is so important about living life and being grateful for the life that we have to be able to live today. 

So here are my 10 tips to gratitude in your life.

Every day, I want you from now until the end of the year, you can continue it beyond that for sure. But for now until the end of the year: every day, I want you to say three things out love that happened to you that day that you are grateful for. And if you can do this activity with your kids or with your partner, that’s even better. We’ve done this in my office and it’s beautiful. It helps us move that reflection from negativity to positivity. Some days you are going to have all you’ve got to muster up something that you’re grateful for that happened that day. Be grateful the sun came up, be grateful you caught a glimpse of the sunset. Be grateful that the grass is green if that’s where you’re living, or we didn’t have snow that day or an ice storm, make it fun. Some days are going to be much harder for you than others. But every day say three good things that happen to you.

Keep a gratitude journal. I started this numerous years ago, well over 10 years ago, I started keeping a gratitude journal. And I jot down the small things for my day that matter to me the most. It doesn’t take a lot of time. You can do it in less than five minutes. But find a quiet place for yourself. If you don’t want to write, these things we call smartphones are amazing. Click on something that allows you to record you can download an app that allows you to record your thoughts and just simply talk into it for a few minutes about what turned out great in your day. The fact that you have had a rainstorm and we have four inches at one time but your basement didn’t flood. That’s a great day. I would also recommend that you put a date on those pages or on your recordings because you want to be able to look back at those over time and see all the amazing blessings that you have in your life.

Third: say thanks to your partner. Couples who express gratitude towards one another have a better relationship, they have better intimacy, there’s better trust. And you both will feel as though your needs are being met. So take advantage of this. Every day I listened to women tell me they want their sex life to be better, they wish they had better desire. Step one people, honor your partner. Honor your partners that they honor you and that will start to make that change a little bit nicer for you.

Number four, cool a hot temper quickly with gratitude inventory. So it’s very easy for us to go from zero to 100 seconds in two seconds flat, right? We all know people that can do that. The quickest way to dispel energy from a bad mood, is to focus your attention on what’s good. So if you lash out at someone, take a quick moment, do an inventory of five things that you’re thankful for in that moment. It could be your health, it could be the clean air you’re breathing. Maybe you switched to a cheaper cell phone bill, anything like that at all. If you wake up on the wrong side of the bed, do the same thing. Go for it, find those things you’re grateful for.

Number five: thank yourself. Gratitude doesn’t always need to be focused on what other people have done for you. Make sure you thank yourself for your healthy habits that you have. I’m eating more vegetables. I’m exercising, I’m sleeping. One tip that I learned from a coach that I was working with is to take a post-it note in your bathroom mirror. And write down three things on a post it note that you like about yourself, and read them out loud every morning and every night. You may have the most gorgeous hair in the world that people take for granted. Be thankful for that! There are people that have no hair, you may have the sexiest legs. Put that on your gratitude journal, you may have the most superb taste in clothes or shoes or something like that. Put that on your gratitude list. Those are important features. Not everybody has those things.

Number six: use technology to send three gratitude messages a week. So find yourself a cell phone or an internet. You’re on it for hours every day searching Facebook, searching all kinds of things. Facebook has become one of the most negative places to be these days. Let’s put out something positive. Let’s put out some good vibes. Instant message, text, add a Facebook comment. Tell your friends why you appreciate them. Tell them why you’re grateful they’re showing up for you the way they do in your life.

Number seven: savor the good moments. If you notice you’re feeling happy. Stop and pay attention for a few minutes. Don’t be happy and then rush on to the next task. Notice exactly how you feel, including those sensations that you have in your body. I will never forget the feeling I had holding my child for the first time. I had a very different feeling holding my grandchildren for the first time.I had another really different feeling watching my daughter walked down the aisle to be married. Savor those moments. They’re precious. They will inspire gratitude for you to remember a moment and an experience when you’re down.

Number eight: check for silver linings. The most difficult life challenges come with some benefit. You have to look to find them sometimes. Being sick draws out compassion in friends. Making a mistake teaches you a lesson. When things are hard, ask yourself, “what’s the good in this?” I always do this when things are hard or they’re not going the way that I want them to go I tell myself the universe has a bigger plan for me. There’s something else that’s happening. There’s a reason this person is leaving my life. There’s a reason that I’m losing an employee. There’s a reason I’m having this argument with this person right now. Find that silver lining.

Number nine: look outward, not inward. Robert Emmons says people are more likely to feel grateful when they put their focus on others, rather than getting caught up in their own inner narratives about how things should have gone. Empathy is huge, it can trigger a sense of gratitude, and people who can focus outwardly, tend to experience stronger benefits.

Now, number 10 is our last one. I mentioned this a little earlier in there: change your perspective. If you struggle to come up with something to feel grateful for, put yourself in the shoes of someone who’s experiencing misfortunes greater than you. If you have a roof over your head, but it’s not exactly what you want, or your basement is flooded, or the your appliances broke, or your kids colored on your wall, whatever that is. That’s got you revved up for the moment. Be grateful you have a roof over your head. Think of the homeless people that are sleeping under the bridges at night that have no home. Think of the children that have no food. Think of the people who are less fortunate than you.

This is an amazing time for us. This next week we get to celebrate Thanksgiving in a different way than we have in many, many years-if ever, it’s unprecedented! It is my birthday the day after Thanksgiving. I will have lived on this earth for 54 years. I don’t ever remember not being able to celebrate a Thanksgiving with my entire family. This year is going to be different. It’s going to be a challenge for us. We need to make the best of it. We have zoom, we have telephone. We have so many things to be grateful for. Yes, it’s difficult. Yes, this virus is affecting a lot of people. On the positive side 99.9% are surviving without any bad ramifications in their health at all. Let’s show our gratitude towards one another. Let’s show our gratitude and our thanks for what we have. Let’s show how much we can give back to the world during this next week.

I want to thank you guys for tuning in. I’m very thankful for all of you. I wish you all an amazing, wonderful Thanksgiving however you share it. I would love to know how you’re sharing it what you’re doing with this gratitude list. So please leave us comments, leave us a review. It really helps us boost our ratings and have other people see the show and listen to the show. If you think this has helped you in any way I would ask you to share it with a friend. I am again just so honored to be able to be your host on Let’s Talk Wellness Now and I wish you guys an amazing holiday!

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