The Gratitude Experiment: Appreciate the Challenges


Welcome to week 2 of The Gratitude Experiment. {If you missed last week, check it out here.}

This week’s gratitude focus is on a topic that doesn’t always bring up the warm fuzzies you often associate with a gratitude practice. It’s all about finding gratitude in the challenges life presents you.

That thought may feel a little uncomfortable to you as you read it. Not all of us were brought up in households that embraced the tougher stuff. As much as we like to focus on the shiny happy light parts of living, there is deep value in looking at the darker, shadowy bits.

Just as night comes before daylight, the challenging moments are a necessary and nourishing part of the experience of living a full, whole life.

Emotions like anger, sadness, frustration, and even depression can feel somewhat distressing in our bodies.

The truth is, the best way to grow from the dark shit is to take time to appreciate it – to find all the little lessons and growth opportunities it gave you. I’m a firm believer that we are never given anything we can’t handle, and that often proves to be true in hindsight. You can look back at the really crappy, challenging moments in your life and see just how stronger, enlightened, compassionate, and patient you’ve become (to name a few).

My good friend Maia Toll recently wrote a blog post about some tough stuff she’s been going through and I loved when she said this:

We don’t get to control the events in our lives. But we do get to decide how we are going to think about them.

As crappy a day/week/month/year you’ve had, the way you reflect upon it is your opportunity to transform it (and yourself) into something better. Your thoughts are powerful {it’s why I often talk about being more intentional in all aspects of your life}, and there is no better moment to practice intentional gratitude and reflection than with the shittier moments.

Acts of Gratitude for the Challenging Parts of Life


1. Find the lessons from this year’s challenges.

Take a moment to settle yourself into a calm and peaceful state. Grab a journal, light a candle, make some tea, and get cozy under your favorite blanket. Take a few deep breaths and think back to the more challenging times you’ve had over this past year.

As you replay those moments in your mind, keep your focus on the lessons you learned from them.

How have you changed for the better?
What do you now know because of that experience?
How have you grown as a person through that challenge?

Be sure to write down at least three insights as you go through this process.

The Gratitude Experiment

2. Give resources to a cause that supports people less fortunate than you.

When I’m feeling down on myself and like life isn’t fair, a really effective way for me to get out of my pity party is to remember how blessed I am.

At least 80% of humanity right now on this planet lives on less than $10 dollars a day. 2.6 billion people lack access to basic sanitation and 1.1 billion don’t have adequate access to safe drinking water.

When I read those statistics, my pity party transforms into grounded action. I remember just how grateful I am for basic things like drinkable water coming out of my faucet and a toilet that flushes. My desire to help those in less fortunate circumstances burns brighter.

This week, I challenge you to give whatever resources you can to those less fortunate than you.

When I say resources, that could be anything you feel you can freely give: your money, your time, your connections, your social media reach, and/or your love and intentions.

I’ve selected the above causes to give to this year. Their missions align with my heart and support people around the world to do and live better.

Try not to let your busy schedule get in the way here – every little action adds up to big transformations in your life and for greater humanity.

I like to say small hinges swing big doors. Each little action you take towards living more intentionally and aligned with your own wisdom keeps building upon the last. It’s exciting (and a little addicting) to witness!

They key here is you actually have to do them. Slow and steady, sister. You can do this.

I would love for you to share your results from the experiment with me and the Dabblist Community!

Post a picture of yourself doing one (or both!) of these practices with the hashtag #GratitudeExperiment and be sure to tag me @beccapiastrelli on Instagram. I adore reading your insights and takeaways from these simple gratitude practices.

Think about the major impact we are having by all of us doing this together! So take a moment to comment and heart your fellow experimenters.

(Watercolor dabbled by Becca Piastrelli, Photos by Rosa Delgado)

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