Gratitude Promotes Well-Being in Hard Times and Good Times

How gratefulness is key to thriving, especially in the time of coronavirus.

Posted Aug 05, 2020

Riccardo Bresciani/Pexels
Source: Riccardo Bresciani/Pexels

When going through hard times or even good times, a grateful perspective is key. According to Robert Emmons, a leading researcher on gratitude, “In the face of brokenness, gratitude has the power to heal. In the face of despair, gratitude has the power to bring hope. In other words, gratitude can help us cope with hard times.” As a country, if we can face the novel coronavirus together, we can practice gratitude altogether as a nation. 

A vision of gratitude is key to surviving and thriving day in and day out. Compare where we are now to a year ago. Traveling was easy. Going out was simple. Crowds were no issue. We can be grateful today for the opportunity to have loved ones in our lives, friends, others to count on or if nothing else, the simple joys of walking and eating which for most have not been affected.

Hard times call for gratitude.

But then why do we easily forget gratitude? According to Emmons, “when times are good, people take prosperity for granted and begin to believe that they are invulnerable.”

Perhaps when circumstances are at their baseline, with little room for change, we feel invulnerable. Most of us realize times are not great due to coronavirus. However, until we are directly affected, we may actually feel like we are resting at baseline circumstances. Is that the best strategy? No.

Gratefulness at this time is like getting proper hydration during an extremely intense workout. It is vital.

With so many families strained due to kids being out of school and or lack of childcare, loss of a job, death or a loved one or coping with any illness, gratefulness (and self-care) should be our rock at this time.

Gratitude and self-care should be our rock. A vision of gratefulness includes boosting yourself with gratitude and positivity. Secondarily, a vision of gratitude includes boosting others with the same.

A 2019 study on gratitude and self-compassion in the journal Mindfulness finds that both enhance psychological well-being. Both gratitude and self-compassion are facets of mindfulness that enhance psychological well-being. We each could use a bit more of both.

In another 2019 study from The Journal of Positive Psychology, researchers found that “gratitude is beneficially, although modestly, linked to social well-being, emotional well-being and to a lesser extent psychological well-being.”

While research does say that gratitude is not a cure for illness, both physical and mental, there are strong indicators that gratefulness provides life satisfaction and overall well-being.

With the beneficial role that gratitude can play in our lives, we ought to engage in more of it. How?

Here are three ways to engage in a gratitude practice:

1. Pick out three different parts to each day that you can be grateful for and enjoy them. For example, you appreciate the peacefulness of the sun rising in the morning. Or, you like the excitement of TV shows at night. Or, you like taking your shower and feeling refreshed afterward.  Enjoy these parts to your fabulous day.

2. Pick out at least one thing about two persons you interact with each day that you are grateful for. For example, you appreciate the candor your client speaks with at work. Or, you appreciate the thoughtfulness your sibling adds to a discussion on an important topic. Enjoy and appreciate these parts to your personal or professional relationships.

3. Share an uplifting social media post with a friend or loved one. For example, you post an uplifting quote about gratitude with your friends on social media. Or, you celebrate your mother’s birthday with a loving and heartfelt status post on a friendly and uplifting app or platform. Enjoy and celebrate these moments.

Your vision of gratitude can be renewed and reinvigorated daily with all the joys that life can bring. You just have to open your eyes to them.  

Even with hard times, as we are all facing together, gratitude can be used to help us thrive and celebrate what we do have. In turn, gratitude can facilitate strength, comfort, joy, and peace when at times these seem beyond our reach. Try your hand routinely and get the most out of the practice that you can.