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When you are struck or burnt out, it can seem nearly impossible to find reasons to practice gratitude daily. Perhaps you are caught up in seemingly endless responsibilities, you toddler is in a particularly hard phase, or you marriage has hit a rocky patch. You may even find your self wondering, “How can I practice gratitude when it is taking all of my effort to simply survive each day?”

Believe it or not, times of burn out, struggle, or pain are the very best times to begin a gratitude practice. Disciplining yourself to see the gifts in your life and learning to say thank you could become essential to maintaining a joyful attitude during your most difficult seasons of life. In addition to helping you maintain a positive outlook, making a habit of saying thank you is linked to better sleep. a stronger immune system, and an increased ability to show compassion and kindness to the people around you—what mom doesn’t need those three things?

Still, gratitude doesn’t just happen naturally. In fact, the very reason it is called a practice is because it will take time and effort to begin saying thank you each day, especially when it seem as if everything is going wrong. Beginning your gratitude practice will not be easy, but there are few steps you can take to create space and time for finding reasons to be grateful each day.

First, I find it really helpful to write down my reasons to feel thankful. Many people use a journal devoted to jotting down their daily gratitude or they incorporate it into a journal they already use everyday for other purposes. Others may take notes in their phone or planner, some may even find it helpful to use a voice recorder to keep track of their “thankfuls.”  Find what works best for you and stick with it.

Secondly, I suggest you set a goal. Do you want to find one reason to be thankful each day? Or maybe you want to shoot for five or more every day? Settle on a goal and challenge yourself to stick with it for an extended period of time.

Lastly, many people who are struggling with discontentment in their life find it helpful to step outside of themselves and become involved in a bigger cause. Experiencing the struggle and pain of others and assisting them to move into a healthier and happier life will alone you look at your life through new lens.

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