I don’t know about you, but at times of humanitarian crisis it’s very easy to feel guilty, to be sitting in your home with the heating on watching the television feeling guilty for what you have when others are being met with mindless destruction and devastation? The question we have to ask ourselves though is, does guilt actually achieve anything? Does it help those in crisis? Does it make us feel any better? Does it create a positive chain of events that lead to us helping those less fortunate than ourselves? I think we all know the answer to that.

I’m sure that many of you will have come across gratitude diaries or journals in your time, it tends to be a favourite of us life coaches – something that we use with clients to help gain perspective, to help people focus on the good in their lives and personally, I have seen them work on many occasions. They can feel quite laborious to do, it can be another thing to add to our daily to do list and at the end of each day, particularly on a bad one trying to think of the things we are grateful for can be quite a test.

I think where we get confused with gratitude and gratitude diaries, is we try to get our brains to think of the big things that we are grateful for and let’s face it there are days where it is very difficult to feel grateful for anything even though we know that’s not really the case – some days are just crap! However if we start to think about gratitude in terms of the little things, the little every day things that we can be grateful for, it is far easier to look around to look at our surroundings, what we are able to do and be grateful for what we have.

When I’m working with clients on gratitude I often suggest that they concentrate on just three things per day to jot down and to choose three seemingly little things. For example, I can get up and by switching a switch I will have electricity, I will have light. By turning a tap I have clean running water at my disposal, I can brush my teeth without worrying about what I’m drinking. I can go to bed on a bed in a bed. Small things that we take for granted but at times like these it becomes more and more apparent that we just shouldn’t.

The thing about gratitude is when it becomes habitual for you, when you learn to look at each day and be grateful for something or someone in it, it will radiate out of you, people will notice, you will feel different about the world. The ability to be able to conjure up something to feel grateful for is also hugely comforting at times when life can feel desperate or out of control, when that dreaded guilt creeps in.

Guilt is a wasted emotion, look around you what can you be grateful for? Who are you grateful for in your life? Our logical brain knows we are lucky to be who we are/where we are, there are some things that are just out of our control and the only thing we can affect is how we deal with them. If our gratitude for what we have drives us to do more to help those that are struggling right now, that can only be a good thing can’t it?

So the next time you’re sitting there overwhelmed by the world, change that feeling of guilt into gratitude it’s far more powerful and will be far more helpful to both you and those around you. A grateful person will endeavour to go out and do positive things, gratitude lifts us up, makes us look at the world through a new lens, it helps us to help others who are having a terrible time, never underestimate the power of that emotion.