(Psst: The FTC wants me to remind you that this website contains affiliate links. That means if you make a purchase from a link you click on, I might receive a small commission. This does not increase the price you’ll pay for that item nor does it decrease the awesomeness of the item. ~ Daisy)
Author of Be Ready for Anything and Bloom Where You’re Planted online course
It would be difficult to deny that a lot of folks are going through hard times right now. One survey said that 77% of Americans are feeling anxious about their finances and another, even more alarming study said that 40% of Americans have experienced serious financial problems since the last few months of 2021.
When it seems like everyone is struggling, how can you keep your head high and keep pushing through? That’s a question I hear a lot when people read my story of my own personal economic disaster, and there’s one very simple answer.
Gratitude? I can almost hear some folks rolling their eyes and wondering if I’m crazy.
Even in the midst of incredibly difficult times, finding things for which you can be grateful can be life-changing and mood-altering. And when things are truly that bad, I call that sense of optimism radical gratitude.
The Science of Gratitude
Neuroscientists have found that true gratitude can actually rewire your brain.
Psychologists Dr. Robert Emmons of the University of California at Davis and Dr. Michael McCullough of the University of Miami published a study in 2015 that looked at the physical outcomes of practicing gratitude. One-third of the subjects in the study were asked to keep a daily journal of things that happened during the week for which they were grateful. Another third was asked to write down daily irritations or events that had displeased them. The last third of the group was asked to write down daily situations and events with no emphasis on either positive or negative emotional attachment. At the end of the 10-week study, each group was asked to record how they felt physically and generally about life.
The gratitude group reported feeling more optimistic and positive about their lives than the other groups. In addition, the gratitude group was more physically active and reported fewer visits to a doctor than those who wrote only about their negative experiences. (Source)
This is not new to Frugalites. Colette wrote about the power of gratitude in a recent post that you really need to read. It is so incredibly powerful that it can change everything, including your success at pulling yourself out of the hole.
How to practice radical gratitude when things are really bad
Of course, that’s all well and good during ordinary rough spots, but what about when things are really, truly bad like they are for many of us right now? How do you feel genuine thankfulness when you’re down to your last can of green peas and you really, really hate green peas?
Trust me – I know how difficult it is.
But your brain is your most powerful organ. And you need to tap into that power to light your way out of the dark place in which you find yourself. No matter how difficult it is, you must find something for which you can be thankful. Whether it’s the bright blue sky, the fact you still have internet, or a bill you paid in advance that means you still have some other privilege, the least little thing can turn your day around if you focus on it. And if you’ve turned your day around, then you can take some positive steps to make things better.
Alternatively, if you are in a surly, hopeless mood, it’s difficult to muster up the energy to try and improve things.
Finding the bright side of dark things
So, perhaps things have gone really sideways in your life. Maybe your car is about to get repossessed. Perhaps you are right on the edge of eviction. What if you can’t pay your electric bill? How can you possibly find a bright side in any of these things?
It really does get a lot harder when things are this bad. But that doesn’t mean it’s impossible. Now it’s time for radical gratitude.
If your car gets repossessed by the bank, sure, that is rough. But you don’t have to fill the tank with high-priced fuel, you’ll be less tempted to shop frivolously if you rarely go to the store, and you will no longer have to make that car payment and insurance payment. Sure, it is far from ideal, but it does free up a few hundred bucks a month that you can put toward other things, essentials like food and power.
If you are going to get evicted, you can put some rent money back to pay for your move to a less expensive place. Perhaps it’s the push you need to reduce your living expenses. Nobody WANTS to get kicked out of their home, but if you do it on your own terms, you may be able to get yourself into a better position in the future. (See this article for more information on what to do if you can’t pay your bills.)
Things may be dark, but those things may help you find the light again.
It helps your loved ones.
If things are really, truly terrible, but you can find some places for radical gratitude, you are setting an incredible example for the people you love, especially your children. You are teaching them mental resilience by example. You are showing them that they, too, can conquer difficulty. You’re giving them the gift of gratitude and optimism in the face of trouble.
Has radical gratitude ever helped you through difficult times? Can you share some examples of finding the bright spot in something truly tough? We’d love to hear your story in the comments.
Daisy Luther is a coffee-swigging, adventure-seeking, globe-trotting blogger. She is the founder and publisher of three websites. 1) The Organic Prepper, which is about current events, preparedness, self-reliance, and the pursuit of liberty; 2) The Frugalite, a website with thrifty tips and solutions to help people get a handle on their personal finances without feeling deprived; and 3) PreppersDailyNews.com, an aggregate site where you can find links to all the most important news for those who wish to be prepared. Her work is widely republished across alternative media and she has appeared in many interviews.
Daisy is the best-selling author of 5 traditionally published books, 12 self-published books, and runs a small digital publishing company with PDF guides, printables, and courses at SelfRelianceand Survival.com You can find her on Facebook, Pinterest, Gab, MeWe, Parler, Instagram, and Twitter.
10 thoughts on “How Radical Gratitude Can Help You Get Through Hard Times”
I just wanted to thank you for all you’re websites and all the great information you provide!
So, so true. So simple and at times, so hard to remember. I once talked to someone who had spent time living in a box near a railroad track. Just a big cardboard box. They told me that they still have memories of happy times, being grateful for the sunshine. It can be done. At the very least you can always say “at least I’m still breathing. I’m not done yet.”
If you can’t, then please materialize and come hang out with me, I don’t mind people who have happened to leave their bodies behind!
One small thing – I found a typo. I wouldn’t mention it except it’s near the top. “Neuroscientists have found that true gratitude can actually retire your brain.”
Should be “rewire.” Great job, Daisy! 🙂
Oh, I don’t know. There have been times when I would have liked to “retire” my brain.
Hahahaha – great catch! Retiring one’s brain is sort of the opposite of what I was going for! 😂
Regarding this embedded article link:
What to Do If You Can’t Pay Your Bills, by Daisy Luther, October 29, 2021
There is another remedy that has surfaced since that article and its comments were published. It is certainly catastrophic when one’s house gets foreclosed and it goes back to the lender. In 7 states there is an organization that can intervene, do any reasonable home fix-up that’s necessary, and manage your house as a rental. They take their monthly fee as a percentage of what they collect from the tenant they put in your house while you basically get to receive the rest of such payments. While you hand them the keys, you still keep the title and get to preserve whatever equity you’ve accumulated. They want your keys for a minimum of one year but any longer than that is entirely up to you until you decide to 1) move back in, 2) do an outright sale, or 3) let your estate settlement process handle your last wishes.
In the meantime to make that system work, you need to find a less costly way to live — even if it means living out of whatever vehicle you might have or can acquire — as many people are doing these days. As rents are increasing enormously, you get to benefit from the financial side of that while your piece of the rent money helps you preserve your equity and continues to help pay down your mortgage.
Technically what that company is doing is called master leasing — a method borrowed from the commercial property business. The company I’m aware of is Knox Financial which uses this website:
To find such companies in other states you may have to seek out various real estate investor organizations that are most likely to know of master leasing trained people in their areas. It might even be that Knox knows of other such companies out of their regions of operation.
Awesome suggestion! Thank you for sharing it!
I just got an e-mail from HarvestRight, which makes freeze Dryers for households. They’re having a sale. This is the highest-quality way to preserve food. There are no articles about it on this site, and that is a huge omission. Daisy please take advantage of this, and anybody who can buy something from her, please do it now so she can manage it. It will help YOU before long, too. Here’s the letter:
I wanted to inform you that Harvest Right has medium and large blemished freeze dryers right now. They typically ship within 1-3 weeks and are $300, $400, or $500 off of the current sales price, depending on the grade (A grade being the best). The ‘blemish’ is slight cosmetic damage during the manufacturing process, and the units still come with a full warranty, the mylar starter kit, and a new premier pump (everything you would normally get with a new freeze dryer).
Blemished Unit Pricing:
-A $300 off current sales price
-B $400 off current sales price
-C $500 off current sales price
Blemished Units are units that were scratched or dented during production. These units haven’t been used. A units may have a minor dent or scratch. B units have more noticeable scratches or dents. C units have more scratches and dents or more severe damage, but function properly. All these units carry the same warranty as a new unit. Quantity is limited.
We also have ‘refurbished’ units that have been sent out, used, and returned for various reasons. These start out at a discount of $500, for a grade A.
Please email me back with which size and grade you would like and I’ll be happy to email you a quote.
If you have any questions, you can respond to this email, or call me on my direct #. (801) 386-8964.
95 N. Foxboro Dr. #100
North Salt Lake, Utah 84054
I’ve spent many years going to Alcoholics Anonymous. If you’d like to see some folks in hopeless situations just sit in an open AA meeting sometimes. Every sober old timer I ever met in those rooms had one thing in common. Gratitude. We have NEVER seen a grateful alcoholic get drunk. I have seen radical gratitude literally be the difference between living and dying. Great article Daisy and 100% truth!
Great comment, Paul. Thank you for sharing it with all of us!
You’re welcome Carla! Sharing experience and hope is so important during these very trying times.