There’s a great book called The Road Less Traveled, which opens with “Life is difficult. This is a great truth, one of the greatest truths.” This is such a true statement – everyone at some point goes through periods of struggle, whether it’s personal, professional, financial, or something else.
In the last few years, I’ve gone through the biggest loss in my life, which has forced me to build resilience during hard times. Now I’m sharing my story of how I built Gratitude Plus and a life of purpose after loss, so others can too.
In late 2018, I suddenly and tragically lost my mom. My mom and I were very close, and the unimaginable had happened. Heavy with grief, I took a leave of absence from work so I could figure out how to move my life forward from there. I was at a fork in the road: either be consumed by grief and let it take me down, or face it head on and actively work through processing my emotions.
I made the conscious and difficult decision to do the tough work up front and try to deal with my loss in a healthy way, with the hope of a happier life down the road. Below are a few tips that helped me.
Tip #1: Establish a positive routine – even when it’s hard
When you go through a significant loss, it’s easy for your world to shrink and focus only on that loss. Incorporating healthy habits and positive routines help keep your mind and body active on a daily basis – and eventually, your life “aperture” will start growing.
As part of my journey, I tried therapy, a grief group, journaling, yoga, meditation, gym and more – basically all the healthy things you could do. Some were harder to stick with than others, but for me, some form of exercise on a daily basis (running, yoga, weights), gratitude journaling, and therapy helped the most.
All of the above have proven scientific benefits to your health and mood regulation, and they keep you in a routine – which is more important than ever when all you want to do is lie in bed or do whatever you can to distract yourself to not feel pain. Atomic Habits by James Clear was an incredibly helpful book in building routines that last.
The book taught me that whatever habits and routines you choose – stick with them, especially when you don’t want to. If you can build a routine (it takes 60 days for it to be wired), you will reap the benefits.
Tip #2: Find a community
Finding a community of people who are dealing with similar situations can be quite impactful and help you feel like you’re not alone. When my mom passed away, I remember feeling very isolated from my existing social circle – most of whom had never experienced a loss like that.
For me, my grief group was really helpful here – I was able to sit with other people, share my story, and get feedback and support. It was also helpful to hear about journeys different from my own. This got me thinking about how important community was for my healing process, but how few options were out there…which leads me to my third piece of advice.
Tip #3: Find a purpose
After going through a painful experience, you generally lose some energy and focus. It’s in these times that you should lean into your passions or pick up a new hobby, and try to discover what drives you and brings you joy. For me, that was creating.
After trying out many wellness activities and tools, I became inspired to build an app that would continue helping me for the long term. I couldn’t find any tools that offered simple, repeatable exercises that I could do on a daily basis or had community built in. I decided to build my own.
I spent the next few months building Gratitude Plus – a wellness app combining simple, effective mental health tools with the power of community – which kept me focused on something I was passionate about and saved me during the first critical few months after my mom’s passing. My purpose has turned into my job and passion: building technology to make mental health easier and accessible to all.
As Winston Churchill said – “When you’re going through hell, keep going”. Establishing healthy, positive habits, finding community, and finding passion and purpose are some of the ways to pick yourself up after a loss or setback.
Gratitude Plus helps people build positive, simple habits with the help of a community – you can start your journey by downloading the app and sharing what you’re grateful for.