How Radical Gratitude Can Help You Get Through Hard Times

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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.

Have gratitude.

Gratitude? I can almost hear some folks rolling their eyes and wondering if I’m crazy.

I’m not.

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 genuine 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)

It is so incredibly powerful that it can change everything, including your success at pulling yourself out of the hole or surviving when the odds seem to be against you.

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.

Originally published at

About Daisy

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), 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 You can find her on FacebookPinterest, Gab, MeWe, Parler, Instagram, and Twitter.

Picture of Daisy Luther

Daisy Luther

Daisy Luther is a coffee-swigging, 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 on her website, 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), an aggregate site where you can find links to all the most important news for those who wish to be prepared. She is widely republished across alternative media and  Daisy is the best-selling author of 5 traditionally published books and runs a small digital publishing company with PDF guides, printables, and courses. You can find her on FacebookPinterest, Gab, MeWe, Parler, Instagram, and Twitter.

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  • The New Testament says to Thank God for all things. After 7 decades of life, I finally tried it about a year ago. “Lord, I don’t know why my car is giving me so much trouble, but I expect it will work out for good somehow, so Thank You.” I Thank God for ally my troubles now. The problems went away fast. I am amazed.

  • 15 months ago I was diagnosed with stage 4 metastatic lung cancer. I underwent radiation and chemo therapy and am currently still on immunotherapy. The immunotherapy has killed my pancreas so now I’m a Type 1 diabetic, it also killed my thyroid.
    Every day I thank God for waking me up. I feel blessed. My oncologist is amazed at my progress in beating the cancer. He can’t believe my “positive attitude “. I say God is good!

    • One time I was unjustly fired from a job. I think it was because they wanted me to work full time and I didn’t need to. Initially I was devastated. But then I began to find reasons to be thankful. I ended up finding another job which began a whole new career. Now I’m so thankful I was fired!

  • A year ago I was diagnosed with stage four colon cancer. It is just as terrible as you can imagine especially the chemo side effects. But here’s the grateful part, it has pulled together my family, my grown children, in a way that I could not have possibly imagined. One of my grandsons had not really spoken with me much for over a decade. To my shock and surprise he came and stayed with me three months over this past winter at my little Homestead farm to help me and did things around the house that needed a man’s touch . It was unbelievably beautiful. I’m so thankful for that. I’m also so thankful for so many people willing to come and help me which has been very difficult for me to accept because I’ve always been very independent and I will just put my nose to the grindstone and make things. happen. But I can’t now. It is humbling. And I’m so grateful for the help. In all of this there is much reason for joy and gratefulness.
    Charles Swindoll said, “Life is 10% what happens to you and 90% how you react to it.” Smart man

  • Everyday I drink my cortado sitting on my table, before making breakfast. At home. Early in the morning, while my kid still sleeps. And I thank. Being abroad, I usually had a small cup, prepared quickly in the rush before going to work, trying not to think too much about everything I had left behind. Those days are gone. The challenges are different now; but I’m at home, and don’t need to pay a rent anymore. Enough to thank everyday. Even with a few rain leaks here and there I have yet to solve.

  • This is a good subject. I subscribe to a quote of the day. This is today’s quote:

    “Let your dominant intent be to feel good which means be playful, have fun, laugh often, look for reasons to appreciate and practice the art of appreciation. And as you practice it, the Universe, who has been watching you practice, will give you constant opportunities to express it. So that your life just gets better and better and better.”

  • My only child died at 26 years old in 2018 from fentanyl. It devastated me, but I chose to be thankful that he was — is — at peace, no longer struggling, anxious and angry. Also, according to my faith, I am hoping that I will see him again when Christ comes back.

  • Radical acceptance, just sucking up and pushing through is what works best for me. Every time I tried the look on the bright side during a severe crises it spins into an out of cycle of frustration and anger.
    When things aren’t too bad the “it could always be worse” does seem to help but when I’m at the bottom it comes off as empty platitudes even when I’m only just trying to convince myself.

    • I feel exactly the same! When I intentionally try to have a bright outlook, those are the times when absolutely everything goes wrong. I can push through the first couple of setbacks, but then my frustration gets a toe hold and I lose my temper and everything after that is just garbage. It’s like I’m under attack for trying to change my experiences to something positive.

      It’s not helping to have chronic fatigue because I only have a limited amount of ‘go’ for the day and every little thing that doesn’t work right is a much bigger deal than it would be if I didn’t have this energy-sucking black-hole to struggle through.

      My gratitude feels forced/unreal. Mostly I just want to say ‘f*** you, I’m doing this whether you help me or not’ and I’m not talking to another person…

    • Nothing major, but I just got back from the EMR. Fell, I have no f$ckin clue how, answering the front door.. One minute I’m yelling “,I’m comming, and the next minute I’m in an ambulance and parked in the hallway of the e r. 6 hours later, they have no clue why I passed out. I have a concussion, fractured nose, black eye, swollen knee and fractured ribs. Go home, drink water and take Tylenol. And, I got dumped on the street in my nightgown. My kid is on vacation. Luckily, I called a cab and they let me pay latter. I won’t even think about that hospital bill.. s,And, missing work. I’m super grateful for my emergency fund and that it wasn’t any thing serious.

  • There was a time when I had three small children while pregnant with my fourth where we couldn’t pay our bills and barely had enough to provide three meals. I had to skip meals and live off my kids left overs to be sure they were fed.
    We lived in an impossibly small two bedroom apartment, that thankfully was right across the street from a park. Our mattress could only fit in our room by being on the floor. We had lost all family support and we were recovering from years of narcissistic abuse due to both families.
    I soon learned to be grateful for every little thing that did go right in my day, for being so determined when pregnant with my first to figure out how to use cloth diapers, that we had been forced my husbands celiac disease to learn to cook everything by scratch and make weird substitutions. Grateful my husband had already made us live under our means to stop using credit cards. So thankful for being married to my best friend who was making every possible sacrifice to get us through to better days.
    It was an incredibly hard and scary time in our life and I have many regrets that I didn’t shoulder those stresses as well as I wish I could’ve but when I look back on those days I do remember vividly that gratitude for every good thing that came our way more than any other time in our life together or before.

    • You have an incredible story of survival! I would love to read more about it.

      Note to Daisy: how about a series on this topic?

  • Glad that I have three brothers who I have not seen since the 1990s on their ways to help scatter Mom’s cremains.
    Glad that I have a business that helps me pay my way through life.
    Glad that I have a wife who loves me even though…..and a step-daughter, and a step-son and his ex-wife, too….
    Glad that I get to read The Organic Prepper.
    Glad to be 98% full of don’t give a fucks.
    Glad to be alive.

  • It is hard to understand how this gratitude thing works until you allow yourself to try it. In my worst days when there was barely a glimmer of light in that dark tunnel of life I opened my journal and wrote down anything I could think of that I could be grateful for. The warmth of the sun on my face, the cooling breeze, a visit from a friend….
    Gratitude did not make everything ok but persisting in finding things to be grateful for was one of the steps on the path to healing. Keeping a gratitude journal developed persistence and patience. In time it gave me a resource to see how far I had come, and lessened the frustration of how far I had to go.

  • My wife died a year ago. I am not normally the emotional type, but this has been difficult for me. I started a gratitude list at the first of the year. I add something to the list every day. It forces me to take some personal inventory and focus on the positive. Some days it is hard but the longer I continue the easier it gets to find something to be grateful for. My attitude has improved. A tree fell on my house when a severe storm came thru a few weeks ago. The insurance paid most of the cost for a new roof, which I have needed for a long time, and I got 7+ truckloads of firewood with more I can get from neighbors. God does provide but He usually requires me to put in the sweat.

  • I learned very young to be grateful. By the time I became an adult, I was a cancer survivor, had survived two major accidental injuries, been miraculously healed of a mastoid bone infection the night before the planned surgery that would have wiped out the hearing in in ear and destroyed my sense of balance, and I’d lived with constant pain from age 4. I’d been through a bad marriage that ended the year I was 21 by his death in a car accident. I had 2 little boys. But always the boy and I had been provided for. My work and my parents’ help had gotten us through unbelievable times. I was grateful to be alive and have my boys with me. I learned to ask God to show me how or what to do to meet every frustrating thing I faced and didn’t have the knowledge or understanding I needed. I walked in gratefulness for each thing I overcame and learned. It has stood me in a better place for every decade since. Ive been widowed twice more since that. I’m grateful for the love and good things that have come into my life. Most haven’t been through anything I’ve done. Since retiring I’ve drawn Social Security based of the earnings of 2 past husbands. I retired on the second husband’s death benefits. I remarried after age 60 so I drew that until the third husband died when I was 74. Now I draw a better check based on that last husbands income. My property was a gift from a stranger back in 1982. My two younger children lived there and so did my second and third husbands, and my parents. Two husbands, my parents, and two good friends are buried there. That 3 acres was an incredible gift. Yes I built things there, moved in mobile homes, and drilled 2 wells and have paid several decades of property taxes. For all there have been hard time and pain; there have been joys and great times also. I think more on the good times than the bad times. I’m seldom anything but happy. I still enjoy life and good friends. At 77 Im engaged to be married again. I’ve never looked for another husband and each has been a surprise. He owns a home with an apartment that he used to rent out. He’s given me the apartment and I’ve been planting an orchard of mixed fruits and reclaiming an unused garden. He’s putting in the drip system to fit my plantings. I’m also using soaker hoses. It’s high mountain desert country so growing things here is a learning curve. I’ve learned not to use sprinklers… and I’m grateful for all the help and opportunities that have come my way. I’ve been blessed to be part of starting several churches over the years and once again I’m at the start of a new congregation. We had a soft start to see how things would all work then the Grand Opening last Sunday. 136 area people came to that service and nearly 20 from an out-of-town group to help us start out. Life is still exciting and fun. A lot of that is from an attitude of gratitude.

    • Bless you for your witness!
      I have been journaling for more than 50 years.
      For several years now I start each entry with : “Thank you Lord…”

      I am a worry wart by nature, which has never helped me in any way, but have learned that when something goes wrong, the Lord has some other plan for me that is much better than anything I could come up with.

      It’s a matter of humility and trust.

      I am not the Boss of Creation but I know and trust the One Who is.

  • i did not know where else to publish this.
    our southern state installed the second EV charging station this week. per the mayor this-“You get all the analytical data of who’s using it, where they’re from, where they’re going, and where they’re traveling habits are and that kind of thing. How many are local, and how many are out of state. It’s an addition to our downtown area that we’re trying to revitalize and a welcome component for tomorrow,” said Lee.
    cyber tracking people in EVs??? my God.

  • YOU NEED TO REDO YOUR WEB SITE. your organic drop down screen that shows topics takes up 80 percent of your pages hardly can read

  • Daisy, your weekly health updates are inspiring in your commitment to keep positive, thank you for keeping us readers in the loop. I’m in recovery from a nasty bout of Lyme Disease, a tricky and deceitful bug (first cousin to syphilus) that can disguise itself as other ailments. I now have the correct treatment and am grateful for modern antibiotics, otherwise the future would be bleak.

    Yesterday my daughter discovered wild blueberries on our property, all over the place. Just when I thought this land wasn’t good for anything but ticks and poison ivy, a little treasure peeks out of the underbrush, and makes its way into our breakfast pancakes. Score another one for gratitude.

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