How to Move from Surviving to Thriving: The Power of Gratitude (Part 1 of 5)

At a conference focusing on Indigenous legal traditions at McGill Law School this past weekend, I reconnected with a lovely, accomplished law professor that I hadn’t seen for awhile and asked her how her law teaching was going. She told me that although she is now very comfortable in her job, as a full-time working mother of two young kids, she is feeling overwhelmed, isolated, and feels like she is just trying to get through each day as it comes.

The feeling of “just surviving” is something I hear from a lot of parents I know.  And believe me…I can relate.  Even though Robby and I have great family support, there have been many moments when I’ve felt overwhelmed and have been in survival mode.  I distinctly remember a time when my 2-year-daughter was having an hour long tantrum and all I could do was curl myself up on the couch, hold my hands over my ears and cry.  That was not my best parenting moment.  It was, however, the best I could do at the time.  The problem with survival mode is that it diminishes our abilities to be in the moment and cherish our interactions with the important people in our lives.

The demands of working full-time and arriving home to family responsibilities can be overwhelming.  The demands for stay-at-home parents can be equally overwhelming.  The period during which parents are raising kids under four can feel like we are barely keeping our head above water.  With not enough sleep, too many demands on our time, and a tendency to neglect our own needs, this time can pass without us feeling in control of our lives.  And this feeling can be especially difficult for high achievers…


So how can we get out of the fog? In this blog post and the the next four posts, I talk about five different strategies to help you move from surviving to thriving. (By popular demand, I split up my original blog post into a five part series so that I could provide more detail about each strategy.)  By covering just one strategy per week, you can give each one a try for a full week before moving on to the next one…

Incorporate gratitude into your life on a daily basis

Studies show that deliberately incorporating gratitude into your life can radically shift your perspective from overwhelmed and down to happy and hopeful.  The simplest way to start incorporating this into your life is to name three things each day that you are grateful for.  Okay… I’ll start.  Here are three things that I am grateful for right now: I’m grateful for my family; I’m grateful that I am getting such great feedback from all of you on this blog; and I’m grateful that good things are happening to me in bunches.

Here are some ideas for how you can start deliberately naming three gratitudes each day: you can

  • talk about the three things you are grateful for at breakfast or dinner with your whole family (saying these things out loud is very powerful);
  • write three things you are grateful for in a journal; or
  • download a Gratitude Journal app (yep…there’s an app for that!) you can use to track your daily gratitudes in your phone.

One of the benefits of deliberately incorporating gratitude into your day is that it brings you into the moment and lifts you out of survival mode.  Gratitude also creates positive changes within your body (watch this video by Christine Marie Sheldon to see how).

P.S. I circled back with my law professor friend after I wrote this blog post and she told me that one of the most effective ways that she is coping with overwhelm is by deliberately incorporating gratitude into her life.  So it works, it takes very little time and it costs nothing.

Look for my blog post next week on Strategy #2: “Fitting in ‘You-Time’ Even with No Time
For You” and let’s move from surviving to thriving!


4 thoughts on “How to Move from Surviving to Thriving: The Power of Gratitude (Part 1 of 5)

  1. Great post! This totally works. I try to do a gratitude list every day. One great tip someone gave me is to also think about WHY you are grateful for each thing… it helps you reconnect with the values that are important to you.


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