10 Simple Things You Can Be Grateful for Even When Times are Tough

“Cultivate the habit of being grateful for every good thing that comes to you, and to give thanks continuously. And because all things have contributed to your advancement, you should include all things in your gratitude.”
Ralph Waldo Emerson

Some days are just great.

Things go as planned or even better and you bounce from meetings to tasks to your private life and you feel wonderful on the inside.

Then there are other days.

Days when you do not feel much motivated at all.

When your best laid plans go out the window before the day has barely begun.

When something important unexpectedly goes wrong and you get that sinking feeling in your stomach.

Or when you feel sorry for yourself and honestly just want to go back to bed and to sleep again.

Maybe the simplest and certainly one of the most effective ways to turn such a day, week or month around into something more positive and better is in my experience to turn your focus to gratitude.

Because even if things look tough today or for the next 3 or 6 months I can always find something or several things to feel very grateful for about my life.

So I’d like to share a small list of 10 simple, fundamental things that I feel grateful for.

I usually only reflect on one or a few of these things when I need to but I thought a list like this one could be helpful both for you and for me.

Maybe not every item on this list works in your life, then take what works from here and create and add to put together your own list.


1. A roof over my head and a warm home.

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I live in Sweden, a country where the winters are cold and snowy and the fall and often spring can be quite rainy.

So I often return to this one.

Few things feel better than to reflect upon having warm home and a roof over my head when it is cold and windy outside and I can hear the rain beating hard on my window.

2. Plenty of drinkable water.

I love water and drink plenty of it every day. It is certainly something I take for granted from time to time. But it is not a given.

2.2 billion people lack access to safe drinking water according to water.org.

3. I don’t have to go hungry.

Plus, most of things I cook and/or eat are quite tasty and healthy. And sometimes they are simply wonderful.

So I have much to be grateful for when it comes to food.

4. I can enjoy the small and free pleasures of life.

10 Simple Things You Can Be Grateful for Even When Times are Tough

A sunrise.

A relaxing walk in the woods.

A cool swim in the ocean.

A crisp autumn day when the trees are filled with leaves of vibrant and spectacular colors.

The sun warming my face after many days of the sky being filled with dreary, gray clouds.

5. Access to the internet.

When I was really young back in the 80’s and 90’s and you wanted to learn about something then you had to ask someone who may have had spotty knowledge.

Or you had to visit the local library and maybe there was a book or magazine about it.

Things are so different now and even though it is just a part of everyday life it still amazing.

I can learn about pretty much anything online. I can add new skills and habits to make my life happier and more awesome with the help of what other people share online.

And I can share what I’ve learned via this blog I once started on whim many years ago.

Plus, there is the opportunity to connect with and get to know people from all around the world.

6. My friends and family.

For the love, support, kindness and all the fun that they offer and I get to offer them.

7. My health.

10 Simple Things You Can Be Grateful for Even When Times are Tough

I do not have the indestructible body of Superman. But if I treat it well and get plenty of sleep, work out and eat healthy then it works really wonderfully well almost all the time.

Sure, I get sick sometimes.

But overall I have very, very much to be thankful for that I often take for granted about my body and how it helps me to do everything – see, listen, walk, write, hug, kiss, think and experience my world – every day.

8. The kindness of people I have never met before.

Every day I get kind and supportive emails and messages from people all around the world that I have never met but who reads my blog or newsletters.

Their expressions of gratitude make my life happier and help me to keep moving forward when things feel tough.

And I truly appreciate the simple kindness in the rest of my daily life too when people let me skip ahead of them in the checkout line in the store when I only have a few items.

When they stay for a few seconds and hold up the door for me too. Or let me into their lane when I drive.

9. The setbacks that have formed me and made me stronger.

I have been really ill a few times in my life and these experiences has made me stronger mentally and given me the gift of being very appreciative of modern medicine and of my own body and taking good care of it.

Last year was in a way the toughest one yet for my business as the number of visitors to my website via Google went down in big, big leaps month after month.

That has changed in a very positive way over these last few months but that tough year really helped me to work harder and smarter than ever.

And it has made me more appreciative than ever of the opportunity I have with what I do here.

10. I am alive.

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I have like everyone else been in situations where an accident and being in the wrong place for just a few seconds could have meant I would not have been here anymore.

If I had been born in another time or in another place then there is a big chance that I would not have been here to experience my 45th birthday.

But I am here now. I have this moment and day and hopefully many days still to experience and live my life.

It is an amazing thing.

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About the Author

Henrik Edberg is the creator of the Positivity Blog and has written weekly articles here since 2006. He has a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Gothenburg and has been featured on Lifehacker, HuffPost and Paulo Coelho’s blog. Click here to learn more…

Comments on this entry are closed.

  • Karla

    By searching through this blog, it really makes me things I should have more gratitude for. A lot of the things that they mention in this blog was accurate and correct. I am a happy person, but I feel like I have potential to be even happier than I am. This blogs mentions to keep and journal. Robin Sharma even mentions he keeps his own journal. I really like that idea. It reminds me about the time when as a kid when I tried maintaining a diary. We all know that only lasts a week. Now that I am older and wiser I think I would be able to keep track of a happiness diary. The thing is that every year I usually don’t have a New Year’s resolution. This year was different for me though, I decided I would make one. I wanted a resolution that will be forever in my life and make me a better person. I decided i would start complaining less about all the things in life, big or small. I will start appreciating more things in and gain pure happiness. Yes, it is hard because I sometimes complain about the littlest things, but this is why I made this resolution. I think to really keep track and better this resolution I should keep a happiness journal/diary. I would take this everywhere I go. I keep on hearing that this small thing makes people happier. I think i should give it a shot, if it works, it works!

  • Ashley Pinon

    I have for the past week sat back and listened to people say that even when life is bad and it feels like the whole world is against you there are still things you can look forward to, to be positive. And I have found it to be absolutely true. Yeah, one day your whole world might come crashing down (for the moment) but, you’re still breathing, you’re healthy, you have two feet, two hands, two eyes and there’s people in this world that admire you and the fact that they got to be a part of your life.
    What I like to live life by is, life is too short and, unfortunately, it is. So why spend the 80 or so years that you spend living on earth depressed or sad or hating anything or everything that comes your way? Be happy! Instead, approach your problems a different way. Be happy someone hit your car because you have a car. There are other people in the world that walk to wherever they have to be, and sometimes they don’t have shoes. So, appreciate the luxuries that you obtain.
    Ways you can be happy is to take the time and soak things in, soak in the beautiful sunset, or sunrise, soak in the love and the support you receive on a daily basis, soak in all the events that you fought your way through that made you stronger, soak in the fact that you have a chance to be living here and now.

  • Lois Bell

    I totally agree “An Attitude of Graditude” gives our lives more meaning and helps us strive to help others. I know there is much pain, suffering and injustice in the world. I pray for better and happier times for all who have fallen on tough times. Each night when I go to sleep I thank God for 5 or 6 things that have happened during the day. A phone call from a friend, a nice meal, time with my grand children, my spouse and all he does, or whatever else has happened to inspire or make my day better. Prayers of Thanksgiving are very helpful for me. Thanks, Henrik, for your wonderful posts. Lois

  • Bridget

    Dear Henrik,

    Thank you so much for all your advice and wisdom. Your blogs/articles have really helped me feel better about life today. Ive been very depressed and feeling hopeless the last few months. You’ve made me realize how blessed and fortunate i am and given me hope that I can be happier if i make changes in my life. I need to learn to love myself more and be grateful for all i have. Thank you again. God bless you

  • I love this. I find reasons to be happy and thankful too especially when my days are less than desirable. On my blog I started Project 52 in which I have a new reason to be thankful and happy for something in my life every week for 52 weeks. That way, when I’m down in the dumps, it’s a great reminder for the beautiful things I’m failing to see in my life. Just like your gratitude list has warmed my heart, I’m hoping my list does too. Thank you for sharing and making an impact on the world with one tiny piece of gratitude at a time :)

  • Ongeowun

    Interesting and wonderful, i love it. Thanks for sharing.

  • It’s truly difficult to feel grateful when times are really tough or when very depressed. I think your list is great. What I find helpful is tuning into breathing– going back to the most simple act of being alive. Letting the thoughts be there and tuning into my breath. This connects me to the bare essentials which is truly an exquisite connection to the gift of life. I’m grateful for your posts!

  • Ian

    Great article. Being grateful and saying thankyou is a great way to get balance and a better perspective in your life. When things don’t seem to be going your way just spending a little time to reflect on some of the things that we can be grateful for can lift you out of a negetive mind set. Every night before going to sleep I say thankyou for all that I have been given, oportunities, love, friendship, shelter etc.
    Thanks Henrick