Recently, I made the mistake of taking a Greyhound bus from Phoenix to LA. You see, it was a last-minute, spur-of-the-moment decision; the cheapest plane tickets had soared to a lofty $650+ each way (which I figured wasn’t worth it for a two-day trip), and I didn’t feel like driving. Deciding to push my luck, I booked a (supposedly) 7-hour bus trip, telling myself that there would WiFi onboard, and I could just work through it. How bad can it be? I thought.
PSA: do not EVER try this. The bus reeked of BO and fast food. The air conditioning blew out just over an hour in, and the smelliest guy on the whole bus decided to sit next to me. The air felt so thick with bacteria that I was forced to minimize my breathing- for hours. There is so much more that I can share about this horrid experience, but let it suffice to say that only a few hours in, I was of half a mind to walk up to the bus driver and ask him to let me out. This, my friends, was pure discomfort.
Forcing myself through what ended up being an 11-hour ordeal (and perhaps the most uncomfortable day of my adult life) took a lot more than willpower: it took the kind of mental judo that self-help experts talk about when they tell you that the quality of your life depends on the meaning that you give things. Of course, there was nothing I could do to change my physical surroundings, apart from just wait for the trip to finish. I had to do my best to keep my thoughts positive- and find things to feel grateful for.
Gratitude, which I like to think of as the practice of enjoying what you already have, makes any day better. But it is especially important on the days when it feels totally impossible. Telling your mind to search for the good things in your life can give you a short- even momentary- reprieve from the stress of your life. Ultimately, reminding myself of the things I was grateful for helped get me through this trip. In this article, I’ll share five easy ways to stay in gratitude (and make your whole life better in the process).
Perspective is everything. What feels like a bad situation to you might feel like a holiday to someone else- or even your former self. No matter how bad things might feel, it could always be much worse. You have probably also made it through worse situations- so remind yourself of that.
In addition, every situation is temporary. Suffering comes from feeling stuck, and you are never permanently trapped in any situation. See it for what it is- an experience- and it will pass.
- Remind yourself of the good things you have in your life. Was there something you really wanted and finally received, but you no longer think about? It’s easy to stop paying attention to the good things in your life, but enjoying what you already have is the key to feeling abundant and happy.
- Find the silver lining in bad situations. If something is bringing you down, there’s usually a lesson you have learned or a skill that you have picked up. If nothing else, you might have gained an interesting story to share with your friends or family. Look for what is good about a situation. If you can feel richer for having a negative experience, you will no longer feel its negative charge.
- Look for ways to give back. This is perhaps the best way to feel grateful. When you’re in service of others, you will feel good about yourself and your life. It will also help you to see what is positive in the world around you, and will also give you perspective about how much you have.
- Read as much as you can about personal development. Gaining wisdom through other people’s stories will help you to gain insights into your own life. Reading about others who have been through extremely difficult experiences but have come out stronger can also make you wiser and help you to live in gratitude.
We hope you found this useful!