Being Grateful for What Isn’t

Finding it hard to cultivate gratitude? Learn a trick here to help you find it when times are hard.

be grateful

Being grateful for what isn’t is a simple mindfulness exercise I created to cultivate gratitude even in the most trying situations. Sometimes it feels absolutely impossible to be grateful and that’s okay! I totally get it. That’s why during those instances I choose to be grateful for what isn’t.

Here is why it’s important to be grateful for what isn’t:

  • How we focus our attention and how we intentionally direct the flow of energy and information through our neural circuits can directly alter the brain’s activity and its structure.
  • Even fleeting thoughts and feelings can leave lasting marks on your brain. Think of wax dripping down the side of a candle, each drip follows the path of the last one making the trails thicker and longer.
  • Each thought makes an impact, shifts the flow of energy and emotion to create new pathways. If you’re continuing to feed into the negative you’re deepening those trails. If you’re shifting the thought process you’re working on building new pathways, new trails, new thought patterns.
  • We are building mindfulness by noticing the negative narration in our heads. We are giving ourselves the power to try to change the voiceover every single day.
  • Each time you decide to be grateful for what isn’t, you are shifting your brain’s ability to see situations as neutral or positive instead of negative.
  • Without going into too much neuroscience, neurons that fire together, wire together. By increasing the excitability of active neurons, you are strengthening existing synapses (connections) and building new ones while also weakening past neural networks that don’t serve you, i.e. constantly looking for negative outcomes.

Here’s an example of how to have gratitude for what isn’t:

You find yourself in a crappy situation. You can’t find anything to have gratitude for so you decide to be grateful for what isn’t. Example: Your flight is delayed by ten hours.

Try this list of gratitude for what isn’t possibilities:

  • I am grateful I’m not traveling with kids.
  • I am grateful I don’t have health ailments to complicate things.
  • I am grateful I don’t have to catch another connecting flight at my next stop.​
  • I am grateful my plane is delayed to be repaired instead of flying in disrepair.

By adopting this mental exercise, we’ll begin to transform our minds. We’ll shift from seeing things as negative to neutral. We’ll flex those brain muscles intentionally until one day they take the initiative and start flexing for good on their own.

What are you grateful for today? Let us know by leaving an affirmation.

Photo: Angie Lopez

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    1. Nannette Paul

      I love this sight it is very down to earth and very practical help is offered

      1. Avery Elizabeth

        Thanks Nannette!! Keep checking in with us here at and we’ll continue to help you achieve a more positive outlook everyday!

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