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Being grateful is pretty easy when things are going well, but gratitude in difficult times is a lot more challenging. 

In our business, we meet good people regularly who are struggling. We have struggled too. In honour of World Gratitude Day on September 21st, I’d like to share why we are grateful, discuss why it’s even more important in the face of adversity, and share ways to stay thankful during hard times.

MJS Properties is grateful for…

Male hand writing a Thank you sign with black marker on a yellow background sharing gratitude in difficult times

We are thankful for the ability to help others

It is hard to express how good it feels to help others. We feel grateful for the ability to help people, especially in tough times. Being able to provide answers to those grieving, experiencing financial stress, or simply unsure of the options available is a blessing.

We are grateful for our industry partners and the people we meet along our journey

It would be impossible to do what we do without the skilled people from all the different communities across Ontario who come together to complete a project. Each time we begin a project in a new town, we are privileged to become an extension of their family and leave with a long list of new friends.

We are thankful for homeowners who trust us to transform their home

Selling a house is usually an emotional process. It doesn’t matter the reason. Whether because of debt, damage, death, divorce, downsizing; it doesn’t matter. Homeowners are selling a piece of their history.

Filling our cup by helping others is truly the silver lining of our business

It’s an honour when homeowners choose to sell to us. The joy is overwhelming when those homeowners feel gratitude themselves.

Sellers and neighbours return to see the transformation and share their excitement. It often amazes them at the new life we breathe into the property, preparing it for the next family of grateful people to build memories.

Read about a special transformation in Oil Springs here. It’s a splendid example of gratitude in difficult times.

A story of gratitude in a small town

Practicing Gratitude in Difficult Times May Be Even More Important

Being grateful is good for you. Scientific research performed at the University of Pittsburgh has proven activity in the amygdala lowers when providing support to others. This improves our well-being with physical and emotional benefits.

When you are thankful, your sleep improves, stress levels lower, and self-esteem increases. If you feel down or experience sadness, anxiety, or depression, it is important to remind yourself of the good in your life.

Being grateful can help you cope. Consciously trying to be grateful can help to build up resilience. You can read more about gratitude research in Harvard Medical School’s blog.

Giving Thanks Can Make You Happier

How Do You Maintain an Attitude of Gratitude During Hard Times?

Giving thanks for blessings comes easy. When things aren’t going so well, we must reach a little deeper to continue practicing gratitude. Feeling grateful and being grateful are two different things.

Here are some suggestions to try when you are having trouble helping provide perspective:

  • Be grateful for the surrounding people helping you through hard times.
  • Look to memories of when times were good and be thankful for those.
  • Remind yourself not to take things for granted.
  • Acknowledge the pain and suffering but reframe your sorrow and look for opportunity.
Journal on table with cup of coffee open to page with list of things to be grateful for in hard times. woman's had holding pencil

A personal story…

It is not a coincidence I wrote about gratitude right now. This is not coming from Matt, although he is an amazing role model for remembering to be grateful. For that, I am thankful. Thank you for allowing me to indulge in telling my story, as it is part of my healing process and an exercise in my personal gratitude in difficult times.

Are you lucky enough to have someone in your life who is a shining example of pure kindness? You know the type who remembers everyone’s birthday, invites strangers to dinner and makes acquaintances into genuine friendships naturally.

A very special aunt…

I have a very special aunt in my life. She married her high school sweetheart and is very much in love. As much as she was fifty years ago, if not more. Their marriage is what I strive to model my own after.

She is everyone’s favourite aunt and everyone’s best friend. With a special affection given to each person in her life, she makes them feel like they are the most important person.

Grateful even when faced with adversity…

Earlier this year, she was struggling with pain. Thinking it was maybe a side effect from medication, she tried to tough it out. However, the pain was only increasing. She tried chiropractic treatments, physiotherapy, and different pain medication.

Despite her pain continuing to get worse, she practiced gratitude, even sending positive meditation messages to others who were struggling with their own challenges. She enjoyed time with her grandchildren and was so thankful to be present at the birth of her newest grandchild just one month ago.

woman with sincere smile feeling grateful, holding hands on her heart
Sad grieving crying woman with folded hands and tears eyes

Devastating diagnosis…

After a couple of months of trying various things to mediate her pain, she checked herself into the hospital to find out the cause once and for all. And more importantly, determine the solution so she could get back to her life full of love.

Sadly, after a week of poking and prodding by various doctors, they gave her the devastating diagnosis of cancer. And it was terminal. Bang. This was not what anyone expected. It was absolutely unbelievable. 

How will we go on?

But, in true form, my aunt reminded herself of what she did have to be thankful for. She expressed gratitude for the medical staff trying their best to figure out how to manage her pain. She counted her blessings multiple times a day and looked forward to returning home.

Only one more week later, she would face the reality that she would never see her home again. Once again, this was absolutely unbelievable. It broke my heart to think about what my uncle and cousins face. How will they go on?

What Gratitude Can I Find in My Pain and Suffering?

Trying to cope with my grief, researching for World Gratitude Day, reminded me of how I can express gratitude in difficult times. Thank you for the perfect timing.


Be grateful for the surrounding people helping you through hard times.

Thank you to my friends for supporting me with conversation. And to my colleagues, for the grace extended when I needed some flexibility. Thanks to my family. We will get through this together.

I am also extremely grateful to the team of medical professionals determined to find the best way to provide quality of life for as long as my aunt has. And thank you to them for extending their care and compassion to her immediate family.

Old photoalbum in the arms of tender yong woman

Look to memories of when times were good and be thankful for those.

There are so many memories of good times with my aunt and I am most grateful for those. Even with tears flooding down my cheeks, I find smiles raising the corners of my lips. So many wonderful memories.

I was her flower girl and she took me on my first airplane. We shared many personal milestones together, including welcoming my first child home and multiple emergency room trips. She is like a second mom.

Enjoying the time for chatting

Remind yourself not to take things for granted.

Wow. This one is hard. Filled with sorrow at the thought of life without her, I’m grateful for the many opportunities I took to tell her and show her just how much I love her. This will be a reminder to continue doing that with everyone I love, even when it’s hard.

Young unhappy brunette female sitting on couch in front of aged man holding her hands and supporting her

Acknowledge the pain and suffering but reframe your sorrow and look for opportunity.

Forcing myself to only look to the good and avoid the pain is not helpful. Instead, I accept this news is horrible. I allow the tears but will open my fourteenth box of tissue and figure out how to make the best of this rotten situation.

Express Gratitude in Difficult Times by Helping Others

I’m putting a lot of weight on the expression “By helping others we help ourselves.”

I truly hope channelling my grief into something positive will be helpful.

As my aunt waits for a space in hospice to help her and her immediate family find comfort in her last days, I’m going to support our local hospice. I’m going to “Hike for Hospice” coincidentally scheduled for this weekend.

Interested in how St. Joseph’s Hospice helps?

Learn More

Would like to support my fundraising efforts?


Thank YOU!

Once again, I am grateful for allowing me to indulge in sharing my story. I hope this reminder of the importance of practicing gratitude in difficult times helps you too.

And on behalf of MJS Properties, thank you to those who have trusted us with the transformation of their home, for the opportunity to help others, to the amazing people who partner with us and for the wonderful feeling of making someone else’s life better.

Be grateful.