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Learning to Find Joy Through Gratitude

**Inside: How to Find Joy When You’re Having a Bad day: 3 Powerful lessons from ordinary life.

Some days are just hard. You may wake up in a fine mood.

Then the day starts.

And from the moment you hit the ground, things are just… not… going… your… way,

  • Whether it be your kid waking up with a fever on the day of an important meeting,
  • Or your alarm was turned off accidentally, causing you to be late for work.
  • The kids start the day smarting off to you, the milk spills, the sock is not “just” right, your husband forgets to do x, y, or z, again.
  • And your car doesn’t start.

The hits just…. keep… coming. And it’s only 9 o’clock.

By the time bedtime comes around, you want nothing more than a large glass of Merlot or a big bowl of ice cream. All you want to do is binge-watch your favorite unrealistic reality show or soap-filled drama, or you just want to lose yourself in a good book.

On days when the whole world slams against you and you just want to curl up in your bed and have a good cry,

How do you find joy and/or have a grateful attitude?

When you’re having a bad day, how can you even think of being grateful?

When my daughter does one wrong thing or makes one bad choice, she just seems to spiral into multiple bad choices and meltdowns to where you just don’t have anything else you can take away or do to the child.

It was at the end of one of these very mornings (before 8:30 AM!), that I told my daughter,

“Hey, you can choose to keep making bad choices and keep getting in trouble, or you can choose to take a breath, count, take a walk, ( or whatever works for you!), and change your day. It’s your choice. You are in charge of you.”

I would like to say that it was during this noble parenting moment that I saw the lights go off in my small but mighty six years old’s head, but alas, I am reminded of the movie, 50 First Dates.

I keep having the same conversation with my kids, with the hope and prayer that these life lessons will seep into my children’s hearts.

Somehow, somewhere. Sigh

However, even if it has not permeated my daughter’s mind,

My perspective is changing, which is perhaps a more powerful lesson.

Here I am lecturing my six and three-year-old that they are in charge of their actions and choices, yet how many times do I blame others for my bad moods or loss of temper?

I have to remind myself that I am in charge of me, and I can choose to change my response too. I can choose a good attitude, or I can choose to let evil win.

It is our choices, Harry, that show what we truly are, far more than our abilities.

J.K. Rowling, Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets

So, to teach myself this lesson the hard way,

I braved a trip to the store with my six-year-old spirited child to buy a birthday gift for her friend.

My daughter was all over the place, grumbling and trying to touch everything, and just being all-around energetic and obnoxious.

My blood was starting to boil and my words began to be snappy. I was about to erupt into my righteous angry mother mode when I remembered the book I was reading at the time. (The Miracle Morning)

I had just finished a chapter on positive affirmations as a means to change your day, which prompted the following thought in my head:

I will enjoy my children.

Now, I love my children, but sometimes I’m just ready for them to be in bed…

This shopping trip was one of those times.

But, instead of scolding my daughter, I took a deep breath and repeated the above affirmation a million times. And then I chose to be silly.

And you know what? It worked! The rest of the trip was uneventful and dare I say, enjoyable. (That might be the miracle!)

What’s the point?

You can choose how you respond. Will it be easy?


Will you fail?

Most likely.

But that’s the amazing thing about a day, it starts over every morning! You can turn a bad moment into a good end.

It’s not how you start that’s important, but how you finish!

Jim George

I too have days where the whole world spins like a cyclone on whomever the unlucky culprits may be that day:

  • My family.
  • Pets
  • Or my foot as I kick the wall.

But at the end (and the beginning) of the day, I get to choose.

Attitude is a choice. Happiness is a choice. Optimism is a choice. Kindness is a choice. Giving is a choice. Respect is a choice. Whatever choice you make makes you. Choose wisely.

Roy T. Bennett, The Light in the Hearth

And gratitude is a choice.

Not every day will end on a positive note, but I do believe you can find good in every day.

Related: How to See God When Life is Overwhelming You

The following three ways help me keep the joy and gratitude in my life, even if for a moment.

1. End or begin the day by writing down the things for which you are grateful.

You can even practice this with your family members or through a phone call or text with a friend. Part of my kids’ bedtime rituals includes saying one thing we are grateful for.

You can keep a gratitude journal close to where you end or begin your day. You can even add it as a memo on your phone. (Let’s use technology in a positive way!)

You can even just use a simple notebook or get fancy with a gratitude journal.

Here is one of my personal favorite gratitude journals:

2. Try affirmations.

I myself thought this sounded a little too cheesy for my taste. But sometimes you need to do something different to see different results. Much like memorizing a study book or memory verse, affirmations are just repeating things you want or need to remember.

3. Make a practice of finding beauty wherever you may be throughout the day:

The laughter of a child, the lone flower amongst the weeds, the first signs of fall, the beauty of a child sleeping.

The more you look, the easier it becomes.

when youre having a bad day, look for beauty in nature, like this leaf
One of the great things about kids is they can find beauty in the smallest things!


The practice of gratitude has helped me increase my joy, even if the day ended with kicking a hole in the wall, putting my kids to bed early, or just enjoying an extra scoop of mint chocolate chip ice cream.

While I’ll admit, some days are harder than others. Shoot, some days, my kids are lucky to be alive. But when I read back on the things I have been grateful for, it brings a smile to my lips and a song in my heart.

Choose Gratitude. Choose Joy, my friends, because the power is always in your hands.

So, What are your tips for staying positive and grateful? Share in the comments below!

As always, Thanks for reading! And if you found this post encouraging, I would appreciate your shares on social media.

Products to help you have a more grateful and joyful mindset:

etsy item

Gratitude List Examples: 35 Inspiring and Unique Ideas

Sinners from the Bible that Help Us See God’s Grace: 3 Brazen Examples

Can We Have Eternal Joy? Inspiration from a Southern Snow Day

How to See God When Life is Overwhelming You

Learning to Give Yourself Grace on a Bad Day

8 Life Lessons God is Teaching Me in the Wait Practical Living (unfadingbeautyandstrength.com)

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This post was originally written September 2019. Updated November 2020, August 2022

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