Reflections on Gratitude in the Face of Adversity

Written by on September 18, 2017 in Adaptability, Emotional Mastery

Reflections on Gratitude in the Face of Adversity

Gratitude is one of the few feel-good concepts that even the most ardent naysayers of “positive thinking” are inclined to give a nod of approval.

Aside from its virtuous character, there’s no shortage of scientific evidence that grateful people are happier, more resilient to stress, experience greater empathy, improved sleep and enhanced self-esteem.

What’s not to like?

Of course, it’s a lot tougher to find something to be grateful for when you’re lonely, frustrated, depressed or just plain angry at how life can occasionally be downright unfair.

But it is precisely during our most challenging times that we are given the opportunity to discover who we really are.

Finding Gratitude in Times of Hardship

Who You Really AreIt is not difficult to find stories of people who have experienced positive change in their lives after struggling with hardship, a process called post-traumatic growth.

But this type of growth does not come about as a result of the experience of adversity, but rather as a result of the way in which one chooses to respond to their experience.

In other words, it’s not what happens to you, it’s what you do about it, and gratitude can open the door to finding your path out of the storm.

  • Can you think of your worst experience in life so far and find some lesson or opportunity that you can now be thankful for?
  • Can you allow yourself to feel the pain of loss, sorrow, and grief, and still find within you reasons for gratitude?
  • Who do you have the potential to become in spite of how life has shown up for you up to now?

We each have the ability to experience genuine gratitude in the face of our challenges; it is our choice whether or not to allow the answers to emerge.

Will it be easy? Hardly, but it will absolutely be worth the effort.

To inspire you I’ve gathered the following collection of insightful reflections on the value of gratitude, even during the worst of times.

Reflections on Gratitude in the Face of Adversity

I write about the power of trying because I want to be okay with failing. I write about generosity because I battle selfishness. I write about joy because I know sorrow. I write about faith because I almost lost mine, and I know what it is to be broken and in need of redemption. I write about gratitude because I am thankful – for all of it. ~Kristin Armstrong

Being grateful does not mean that everything is necessarily good. It just means that you can accept it as a gift. ~Roy T. Bennett

Gratitude has a wonderful effect on our soul. It opens our mind, clearing the way for wisdom and contentment to enter. Once you become grateful, the prison bars of your mind fall away. Peace of mind and contentment will be yours. ~Sydney Banks

Those with a grateful mindset are able to see the message in the chaos, and even though life may knock them down, they find reasons, if only small ones, to get up and keep moving. ~Dr. Steve Maraboli

In normal life, we hardly realize how much more we receive than we give, and life cannot be rich without such gratitude. It is so easy to overestimate the importance of our own achievements compared with what we owe to the help of others. ~Dietrich Bonhoeffer

If we never experience the chill of a dark winter, it is very unlikely that we will ever cherish the warmth of a bright summer’s day. Nothing stimulates our appetite for the simple joys of life more than the starvation caused by sadness or desperation. In order to complete our amazing life journey successfully, it is vital that we turn each and every dark tear into a pearl of wisdom, and find the blessing in every curse. ~Anthon St. Maarten

Real transformative gratitude doesn’t allow us to pick and choose what’s good and bad and right and wrong. It is about being able to say thank you for everything that comes our way. ~Denise Simone

I truly believe that either we see the connections, celebrate them, and express gratitude for our blessings, or we see life as a string of coincidences that have no meaning or connection. I choose to believe in miracles, celebrate life, rejoice in the views of eternity and hope my actions will create a positive ripple effect in the lives of others. ~Mike Ericksen

When life is sweet, say thank you and celebrate, when life is bitter, say thank you and grow. ~Author Unknown

When asked if my cup is half-full or half empty, my only response is that I am thankful I have a cup. ~Author Unknown

Gratitude should not be just a reaction to getting what you want, but an all-the-time gratitude, the kind where you notice the little things and where you constantly look for the good, even in unpleasant situations. Start bringing gratitude to all your experiences, instead of waiting for a positive experience in order to feel grateful. ~Marelis Fabrega

For me, every hour is grace, and I feel gratitude in my heart each time I can meet someone and look at his or her smile. ~Elie Wiesel, Nobel Laureate, and Holocaust survivor

If you cannot be grateful for what you have received, then be thankful for what you have been spared. ~Yiddish proverb

When things get really miserable in my life, when I can’t find one tiny thing that feels redeeming, I remember gratitude. One at a time I think about all the things I am grateful for, and when I do this, something overtakes me that eclipse both my mood and my meagerness. With every thankful statement I make, power pours into me and carries doubt and weakness away with its current. I have seen this work so profoundly in major life moments that I am committed to pursuing it in my everyday life. ~Author Unknown


Every struggle in your life has shaped you into the person you are today. Be thankful for the hard times; they can only make you stronger. ~Author Unknown

By taking the time to stop and appreciate who you are and what you’ve achieved – and perhaps learned through a few mistakes, stumbles, and losses – you can enhance everything around you. Self-acknowledgement and appreciation are what give you the insights and awareness to move forward toward higher goals and accomplishments. ~Jack Canfield

At times our own light goes out and is rekindled by a spark from another person. Each of us has cause to think with deep gratitude of those who have lighted the flame within us. ~Albert Schweitzer

Often people ask how I manage to be happy despite having no arms and no legs. The quick answer is that I have a choice. I can be angry about not having limbs, or I can be grateful that I have a purpose. I chose gratitude. ~Nick Vujicic

No one can steal contentment, joy, gratitude or peace … we have to give it away. ~Kristin Armstrong

Hard times are often blessings in disguise. This is an important lesson to remember when you’re having a rough day, a bad month or a crappy year. Truth be told, sometimes the hardest lessons to learn are the ones your spirit needs the most. So take all the crazy experiences and lessons and place them in a box labeled ‘thank you.’ ~Author Unknown

Final Thoughts

Cultivating every-day-gratitude is not a quick fix. It takes time and patience, but it enables us to take a step back and view life from its entirety rather than becoming mired in the noise and chaos that can so easily overwhelm us during times of adversity.

Ultimately, your reward is a perspective that it is relatively immune to the highs and lows of life’s roller coaster ride.

Related reading:
Will you be the passenger or the driver in your life journey?
About Marquita A. Herald

Marquita Herald

Marquita is an author, resilience coach and the chief evangelist at Emotionally Resilient Living. She’s also an unapologetic workaholic who loves red wine, rock n’ roll, road trips (and car dancing!), peanut butter cookies and (especially) a dog named Lucy.

She’s saddened and frustrated by excuses and cruelty and believes authentic compassion is the most powerful force in the world.

To learn more about Marquita and the mission of Emotionally Resilient Living click here.




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  1. Jarvee says:

    This is one of my favorite quotes about gratitude and I just had to share it with you: “Gratitude turns what we have into enough, and more. It turns denial into acceptance, chaos into order, confusion into clarity…it makes sense of our past, brings peace for today, and creates a vision for tomorrow.” Melody Beattie. It basically sums up all that gratitude is about.

    Thank you for sharing Marquita!

  2. Stacy says:

    Hey Marquita
    i read your post and found and awesome knowledge and it’s really Living with gratitude does make a happier person.
    Thank you for sharing

  3. Elise Cohen Ho

    When we are faced with adversity it is one of the most difficult times to express gratitude and kindness. Of course, that is exactly when it is the most important.

  4. Joy Healey

    Hi Marquita,

    One of the worst times of my life was when my husband left me for another woman.

    But out of that came something for which I am SO grateful. At their wedding my son met the lady who is now his wife and I love her to bits. She’s like the daughter I always wanted but never had.

    So, thanks, ex-hubby! I’m also grateful I no longer have to listen to his snoring LOL.

    Joy Healey – Blogging After Dark
    Joy Healey recently posted…Network Marketing Business Free Team Building TipsMy Profile

  5. Edward Thorpe

    Hi Marquita,

    Losing my brilliant son at age 23 also put me under.

    Even now, 11 years later, there are times beyond descriptive words.

    One thing that seems to help me most often is my gratitude for the gift of sharing those 23 years with him, something that has helped Jeannette Paladino deal with her loss, too.
    Edward Thorpe recently posted…Protect Your Hearing As You Age – It’s Your ChoiceMy Profile

  6. I actually do a 30-day Gratitude challenge every year and I love it

  7. You have mastered quite a unique take on an evergreen topic, Marty. I especially like these 2 quotes:
    “When life is sweet, say thank you and celebrate, when life is bitter, say thank you and grow”. ~Author Unknown and
    “If you cannot be grateful for what you have received, then be thankful for what you have been spared.” ~Yiddish proverb
    Each of these captures there true meaning of gratitude. Be grateful for everything we have the privilege of enjoying, and learn from every step of the journey.
    Doreen Pendgracs recently posted…Harrisburg, PA–exploring the Pennsylvania CapitolMy Profile

  8. Karen Kinser says:

    I came across this quote recently from one of my favorite authors, Liz Gilbert. Your awesome post reminds me of it: “Perhaps enjoyment is the highest form of worship and sincerest expression of gratitude for the miracle of our existence.” Enjoying the gift of our lives is, indeed, something to be grateful for.

  9. Sonal Talwar

    Hi Marquita

    Great post and loved all your quotes. Practicing gratitude is very important no matter what field are we in or what we do.

    Thanks for sharing!
    Sonal Talwar recently posted…Amazon Great Indian Festival Sale 21st – 24th Sep 2017My Profile

  10. Mark

    Wow M!

    You talk about meat galore! Where do I freaking begin!LOL!

    All of your quotes and overall theme is so spot on!

    But if I had to choose my top four, I’d have to say, the quotes from Kristin Armstrong, Nick Vujicic, Dietrich Bonhoeffer and Anthon St Maarten.

    But without a doubt, there are critically important lessons to learned and applied, from each quote! Thanks M!

    Your quotes really help us put things in there proper perspective!
    Mark recently posted…Five Simple Ways Proven Email Marketing Strategies Help You Scale Your Business!My Profile

  11. Thanks so much for taking the time to let me know you found value in the article Sharon!

  12. Sorry, I know you write about business topics but don’t recall any posts on gratitude. Still, it’s a popular topic for obvious reasons. I do of course know the story about the loss of your husband and think your heartfelt attitude sets a wonderful example for us all. Thanks so much for stopping by!

  13. Good for you RoseMary! Obviously, I’m a huge believer in the value of journaling for growth as well as healing so I hope this is working out for you. Thanks so much for stopping by and sharing your thoughts with us. 🙂

  14. Wonderful post, it is easier to appreciate what you have when you look around and see what others are going through. Somehow it makes life more rewarding.
    Sharon T McLaughlin MD FACS recently posted…Jillian Michaels App ReviewMy Profile

  15. As you know, Marquita, I’ve written about gratitude, too. It’s so important to “practice the discipline of gratitude,” (quote from Jesuit priest Henri Nouwen).

    We need to incorporate gratitude into our lives, from appreciating the smallest gesture, like some opening the door for you, to benefiting from a life-saving treatment for an illness.

    I was grief-stricken when my husband died, even though it was expected. But then and now I am so grateful that we had 33 happily married years together. I will be forever grateful for the gift of our meeting.
    Jeannette Paladino recently posted…Is it Proper for Airlines to Bait and Switch Seats?My Profile

  16. Love this, Marquita, “We each have the ability to experience genuine gratitude in the face of our challenges; it is our choice whether or not to allow the answers to emerge.”

    I am lucky to have grown up with a dad (are you tired of hearing about how he inspired me?) who always saw rainbows and silver linings. He was a realist, but saw no sense in being negative or pessimistic. It was a good lesson, often repeated.

    At your prompting and another of our BHB friends, I’ve been keeping a gratitude journal for a long time–a.m. on the left and p.m. on the right. If I find myself saying something negative during the day, I think: Now what were all those blessings you wrote about this morning?
    RoseMary Griffith recently posted…Heart Mountain, Wyoming is more than a lovely name, it’s historyMy Profile

  17. Hi William, so nice to hear from you – it’s been a long time. I’m glad you found value in the post and thank you for taking the time to share your thoughts with us. 🙂

  18. Hi, Marquita you have shared an emotion that will help bring hope into so many lives.

    I start of being appreciative with being alive each day. So, many of us take little things for granted. Once we can appreciate every aspect of living. Then, gratitude becomes a natural state of being.

    Thanks for allowing us to remember so many people, thinks and situations to be thankful for.


  19. Thank you for sharing your thoughts with us Erika, as well as the quote by Cicero – well said!

  20. I’m so glad you enjoyed the post, Chery! You are so inspiring my friend. 🙂

  21. Beautifully said Phoenicia, and because life contains so many twists and turns and unexpected bumps in the road, I have become a true believer in the importance of learning to love our detours! Thanks for sharing your thoughts and contributing to the conversation. 🙂

  22. That is a good one Donna – simple and easy to conjure up a visual! I can easily see that you are not only someone who is resilient, but you fully embrace the importance of gratitude. To be honest, I hadn’t realized until a recent event how much gratitude has become my “go-to” response whenever I find myself in a stressful situation. I think some skeptics might try to say it’s a form of denial, but after digging into several of the latest research papers on gratitude for this post I see it in the way I described at the end of the article, as the ability to step back and take a larger view of our lives in a way that allows us to see there is more good than bad. Thanks for stopping by Donna!

  23. Hi Marquita, I love your article and the quotes. Gratitude is something everybody should make a habit.Gratitude connects us to the source and increases faith. There would be less hardship if more people would remember to be grateful.”Gratitude is not only the greatest of virtues but the parent of all the others.” – Marcus Tullius Cicero
    Thank you
    Erika Mohssen-Beyk recently posted…How To Get Motivated To Be A Successful Facebook Ads HackerMy Profile

  24. Chery Schmidt

    Hello Marty! What an AWESOME AWESOME topic! I do live with the attitude of gratitude it is what get’s me through everyday!

    As you know I did loose my mom 6 months ago! This has been the hardest thing for me to cope with in my lifetime thus far! Yet I am so grateful that I was able to be with her the last few months of her life! I am so grateful that I was there to take her last breath with her.

    I am so grateful to you for bringing back these memories this evening.
    God Bless My Friend.
    Chery :))
    Chery Schmidt recently posted…Useful Tips TO KEEP Your CLIENTS HAPPYMy Profile

  25. Phoenicia

    Great post Marquita.

    We have much to be thankful for even when we struggle to identify what. We can overlook the everyday in pursuit of what we desire and it can become all too consuming.

    I remind myself to be thankful even when life is not what I would expect. We can truly take life for granted and it does us no good. Gratitude goes a long way
    Phoenicia recently posted…Stop settling for lessMy Profile

  26. Donna Merrill

    Hi Marquita,

    I have to say when it comes to being grateful, the following quote sums it up that you have put here – When asked if my cup is half-full or half empty, my only response is that I am thankful I have a cup. ~Author Unknown

    Living with gratitude does make a happier person. Even in the face of adversity, after the initial emotional response like crying, being depressed etc. there is always a lesson to learn.

    I am grateful for the lesson no matter how difficult it is.

    Donna Merrill recently posted…How To Get Out Of Your Blogging BubbleMy Profile

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