How To Be Grateful In Tough Times

Though the ups and downs, it’s important that we still give thanks. 

As I look back on this year, with Thanksgiving’s arrival just moments away, I confess that 2015 has been a wild ride; I’ve celebrated wonderfully unforgettable moments but have also suffered loss and disappointment. Life has a funny way of doling out surprises — one day is never like another. Some days I feel as though I’m resting atop a beautiful  mountain and others I am sitting at its bottom, the only view uphill.

In those challenging times, in the depth of the valley, I often can’t see the big picture and living in gratitude is an all-but-forgotten priority. But this year, in the wake of various trials, I will try my best to give thanks for what I do have.


I lost both of my grandparents this year and, though I am sad and miss them immensely, I can already find solace in the wonderful times that we shared. I am thankful that they bestowed upon me the importance of helping and loving others. I am thankful for our many trips to the ocean, where we searched for shells to carry home. I am thankful for our afternoon teas and the countless games of dice. They had an impact on my life that will last forever, and I am eternally grateful.

So how can we remain thankful in these tough times? How do we give thanks when it’s easier to complain? It’s a constant challenge, one that I personally have to actively pursue. Being someone who has had health complications for the last ten years, it’s simple for me to look to a darker side. But when I focus on the physical abilities that I do have, my view quickly turns around. It’s important to remember the good, though you may feel like you’re drowning in the bad.

This Thanksgiving, I am thankful. I am thankful for the many positive things in my life, but also the tough times, as they shine a light toward all that is bright. So won’t you join me today and celebrate the positive people and things in your life, but also the hard situations, for they build character and an opportunity for hope.


For anyone else experiencing a trying time, remember that you are not alone. Everyone has an untold story.

+This Thanksgiving, what are you thankful for? I’d love to know! 

Photos by Tina Deleon. Follow Joanna on Instagram.

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8 years ago

Great post! I’m sorry about your grandparents, but as you say, you have all the memories with them to cherish.
I am grateful for many things, but most importantly I am grateful for my healthy family and friends, to have a roof over my head and food in my mouth.
Victoria | Chronicles of a Mermaid

Megan B.
8 years ago

I really needed these words. It has been quite a year for me as well. The loss of two loved ones, my grandma and our family dog of 13, and a surgery that changed my life forever. With all the downs it gets hard remembering to stand up. Especially when everything crashes down all at the same time. One thing after the other. But I am thankful for family and the memories I shared with my loved ones as well. Although the surgery prohibited me from having children, I am still grateful to be alive.

8 years ago

The past few years have truly been difficult for me as well. Every morning I search for inspiration as I go to a job I don’t care about with people who don’t understand me. I always seem to end up on this blog while checking emails. :-) There is something to be said about finding thankfulness in being yourself and trusting that I am already who I need to be. This adult thing is kind of hard, however I have started a yoga practice every day on my lunch break to get me through the long day of sitting and to have a moment of solitude to remind myself that I am lucky I have a job and am able to motivate my body to move. Thanks for the daily inspiration and the friendship each day… I really need it.

8 years ago

Hi Joanna,
Thanks for sharing a bit of your story. I once heard that sharing your personal story can be throwing someone a life vest who is in need. I always try to share my weaknesses with others as well as strengths. How are we supposed to feel normal if everyone only talks about the good times?! It is oh so important to embrace the bad times with an optimistic outlook as you were saying. I am a senior in college and it is an uphill battle to the finish line but I am grateful for my friends here who lift my spirits every day.
While reading your post I was also reminded of a study that I read. It was about the brain and happiness. It was proven when you are feeling sad and you switch your mind to thinking of something you are grateful for your brain will automatically start releasing happy hormones. (Like my scientific terms?) But just a change of pace in the mind helps. Pretty cool.
I love this post and I am sorry for your loss. Take care!