Family & Relationships

7 Ways to Practice Gratitude During the Divorce Process

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When we go through something difficult, sometimes it’s simply easier to focus on what’s wrong with life than what’s right. However, when we focus on the good instead of the bad, we generally feel a whole lot better. Studies consistently show that positive people live longer, more fulfilling lives.

Robert Emmons, Ph.D., a leading scientific expert on gratitude, has shown that during times of crisis gratefulness is not only helpful, but essential. He states that, “It is precisely under crisis conditions when we have the most to gain by a grateful perspective on life. In the face of demoralization, gratitude has the power to energize. In the face of brokenness, gratitude has the power to heal. In the face of despair, gratitude has the power to bring hope. In other words, gratitude can help us cope with hard times.”

Whether you’re currently working with a divorce lawyer, wondering if you should file divorce papers or are looking at your divorce as something deep in your past, here are seven ways to keep an attitude of gratitude:

1. Give and get support.

Joining a divorce support group can be an uplifting experience for many people who are going through divorce. Not only can you gain confidence from the support of others facing the same situation, but you may gain confidence from being able to support them. Talking through issues and giving advice can help keep things in perspective and remind you of what’s most important.

2. Count your blessings.

Can’t we all be reminded to do this? It can be as simple as making a list of things you are thankful for: kids, career, health, family, friends, home, etc. Try and focus on things that remain after divorce, even if those things change in some way. Print out encouraging quotes to place on your mirror, in your car or anywhere you’ll be reminded to stay positive.

3. Be honest about the hard stuff.

Remember, it’s the crack where the light gets in. Practicing gratitude is not participating in platitudes, or a patronizing suggestion to “buck up and appreciate what you have because someone else has it worse than you.” Handling a difficult life experience such as divorce through a grateful perspective does not mean denying tough realities. Instead, it means harnessing the power to see and name even the smallest threads of beauty that are woven into the tapestry of suffering. It may also be helpful to remember that divorce does not have to be as difficult as we make it.

4. Engage in a daily gratitude scavenger hunt.

Ann Voskamp’s daily Joy Dare is a great tool to help you search out gratitude each day. Her prompts like “find three things green” turn the practice of gratitude into a creative search for the obvious and obscure that exist beyond difficult circumstances. By simply taking a few moments each day to write down three things you’re grateful for, you will accumulate more than 1,000 expressions of gratefulness a year. Getting specific, for example “three things green: Avocados, spring fresh grass and my favorite green sweater” makes the invisible, visible. And visibility of even the smallest of delights during a dark and confusing time can bring hope.

5. Give back.

One of the best ways to give yourself a boost is by giving to someone else. Find activities and places to volunteer. Food banks, homeless shelters and so many others need extra help, especially during the holiday season. Being a support for someone else will take the focus off your problems and help you see immediate results from helping others.

6. Live life to the fullest.

Getting involved in a new hobby or pastime can bring a new excitement to every day and be a reminder that there is so much more to life than divorce.

7. Remember, gratitude and joy go hand in hand.

After collecting countless stories about joy and gratitude, Brené Brown writes in her book The Gifts of Imperfection that without exception, every person who described living a joyful life actively practiced gratitude. These people kept gratitude journals, wrote thank you letters, offered gratitude prayers, created gratitude art or took gratitude walks. They actively participated in a gratitude practice every day.

Brown suggests that we are a nation hungry for more joy, because we are starving from a lack of gratitude. She goes on to say, “If we are not practicing gratitude and allowing ourselves to know joy, we are missing out on the two things that will actually sustain us during the inevitable hard times.”

The stress of a divorce is a formidable foe and can take a toll on one’s physical and emotional health. Thankfully, there is a way to heal. And that is by practicing gratitude.

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