Even if you’re a glass-half-full type of person, noticing tender mercies and small miracles can be difficult at times. When life insists on throwing obstacles your way, sometimes the only satisfaction one can get out of life is the mental list people often keep of everything that’s wrong in life. At least we can put ourselves in the running for the “Most Difficult Life” award, right?
But there’s a better way to find satisfaction in life when nothing seems to be going well. Yes, it involves having a positive attitude. Here are a few simple tricks you can try that will help you pull yourself out of the slumps.
1. Start a gratitude journal
I did this one year during November as a way to celebrate Thanksgiving. It was a particularly difficult month for me, but looking back at the “gratefuls” I recorded every day, I have trouble remembering why that month was so hard. Don’t wait until Thanksgiving to count your blessings, start doing it now. At the end of each day, write down something you’re grateful for. Try to be as specific as possible. For example, rather than saying, “I’m grateful for my family,” record a special moment you had with one of your kids or spouse. Even if you have to resort to something like “My morning commute was shorter than usual” or “My 2-year-old’s screams didn’t give me a headache,” make sure you write something down every day. It will get easier with time.
2. Stop looking for the miracles you want to see
Miracles happen every day, but most of the time we don’t realize it because they aren’t the miracles we’re looking for. When I was in college, I was required to take a foreign language in order to graduate. I struggled with languages and was willing to do just about anything to avoid what I thought was a useless requirement. I spent many wasted hours trying to convince the department heads that I should be an exception to the rule. All it did was postpone my graduation date four months. I was so focused on the outcome that I wanted that I failed to see the opportunities taking a foreign language would provide.
There’s nothing wrong with working toward your goals and praying for miracles. But it’s important to take time out of every day to notice what you have been given that day. You never know — the small miracles you aren’t looking for may take you in a completely different, but better, direction than where you wanted to go.
3. Help someone else
It’s no secret that service benefits more than just those being served. Service helps take your mind off your own problems and appreciate the many blessings you may be taking for granted. You don’t have to make a spectacular grand gesture; a simple smile, note, or a listening ear will lighten your burden as well as someone else’s.