As we struggle to put back the pieces of our lives following a divorce, it’s easy to fall into the trap of focusing on what we lack:
“I’m too old to be single again; I should be happily married.”
“I will never be able to find a great relationship again.”
“I will never be able to afford my dream home.”
We may even start comparing ourselves to others. The college friend who posts photos on Facebook from her latest wine-tasting trip to Italy (Wait, didn’t she just get back from Greece? God, I wish I had her money!). The mom friend whose Instagram page is filled with photo montages of happy kids, handsome husband, beach vacation home (
I will never have that life
Relying on these external forces to dictate how our life should be is dangerous thinking because the truth is, only we have the power to do that.
But in our pain left in divorce’s wake, we easily forget just how much good we have in our own lives. Once we find a way to celebrate what we have, we can free ourselves from the past to focus on what we can control: our future.
The benefits of gratitude
Science has shown that people who regularly practice gratitude have more positive emotions, sleep better, feel more alive, and even have stronger immune systems. In other words, gratitude is good for you!
So how can you put gratitude to practice in your own life and reap these rewards? Here are some tips:
Find something new to be grateful for every day.
It doesn’t have to be momentous; it can be something as simple as savoring a cup of your favorite tea (I am grateful for this delicious warm drink on a cold day) or reading a new book with your child (I am grateful for this child who loves to learn new things).
Be playful with your gratitude practice.
Rather than keeping a journal, start a gratitude jar. Every time you experience a moment of gratitude, write it down and put it in the jar. At the end of the month, empty the jar and reflect on all your moments of gratitude that month.
Express gratitude to and with others.
One activity that helps reinforce gratitude is writing a note to people who have had a positive impact on your life to thank them. Another idea is to have everyone share moments of gratitude that happened that day around the dinner table.
Acknowledge what you already have.
Train your brain to look for and be grateful for the things you already have (I may not have a beach vacation house, but I do have a warm, cozy home where my children feel safe and loved).
As you begin to find more ways to acknowledge and express gratitude, you will find that any lingering feelings of emptiness, jealousy, resentment, or other negative emotions will begin to disappear -- leaving you to realize that you have enough. And you can move forward with what you have.