I'm a writer, Youtuber, photographer. and old-fashioned romantic in love with celebrating the simple joys of daily life. I appreciate timelessness, the natural world, and a slow life lived with simplicity and intention. When I'm not photographing families or  slowly traveling the world and writing about it in a little notebook, I'm happily grounding myself in nature and cozying up with my sweet husband.


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Here are some quick daily tips for finding joy and gratitude during challenging times. Someones you have days where it feels challenging to be grateful or present in your life. Even the most optimistic and joyful people have these moments! But I have found some small ways over the years that lead to lasting joy, presence and peace.

May these small tips help you find presence and gratitude in your day.

My 10 Practical Gratitude Tips

Climb One Stair at a Time

Oftentimes when we feel down in the dumps, we want to instantly rise to a higher-feeling place. We may feel guilty for feeling miserable or melancholic – wondering what it was that set us off on a negative shame spiral. But try this: try not to get to “peace” or “joy” right away.

Think less about the finish line and more of each individual step to get there.

Acknowledge the Signs

The Universe is constantly sending us messages. Little points of direction, synchronicity, and signs always surround us, if only we look up and pay attention to what the Universe is sending us. These messages happen in the smallest and simplest of ways – like in aligned numbers (1111, 2222, 1212, etc), seeing the same book over and over again or when opportunities or people flow to you from seemingly nowhere.

By becoming aware of what is being guided to us, we increase our presence. 

The more often you become aware of and acknowledge the signs, the more often they appear – which makes for a pretty fun and playful relationship with the Universe! And in turn, more appreciative and grateful for what is being given to us. 

Feel What You Feel

Don’t force yourself to feel anything. If you feel angry, allow yourself to feel angry. Don’t wallow in it, necessarily, but don’t ignore it either. Allow yourself to be where you are and just abandon the need to have appreciation. Let the human have its experience.

It’s important to remember that all emotions serve a purpose in helping us grow.

And oftentimes, I find that it is that friction that is the necessary catalyst for action. 

EFT Tapping

Emotional Freedom Technique – or EFT for short – has been in practice in Eastern medicine for over 5,000 years. Tapping is a set of techniques which utilize the body’s energy meridian points (like acupuncture) and you stimulate these meridian points by tapping on them with your fingerprints.

EFT Tapping is my personal favorite method of releasing emotional blocks, nervous habits, random phobias and fear.  I discovered tapping in January of 2019, after having a month-long intense feeling of anxiety surrounding violence after watching a Netflix television show….which really just reminded me how powerful and influential media is and to quit consuming negative content. 

No matter how grateful or present I felt, the overwhelming feelings of anxiety and panic around this subject were constant, and I felt this out-of-body fear overcome me. 

I couldn’t even walk down the street without feeling like someone was going to hurt me! Desperate and afraid that I would manifest violence and danger physically into my life after thinking obsessively over my safety, I had this sweeping of panic and turned to EFT after someone mentioned trying it in a Facebook group. I began tapping the meridian points along with a 15 minute YouTube video to release it.  

The feeling was instantly lifted, and I haven’t felt it since. 

Tapping has instantly removed a plethora of random phobias, fears and nervous feelings for me over the last year, and I have yet to experience blocks surrounding money, safety, and creativity since.

Try it Out! If you’d like to try tapping, consider watching Gala Darlings YouTube videos!


Start Small

Look at the smaller, simpler aspects of life that you can feel immediate appreciation and gratitude for! For me, when I am not in an especially grateful mood, I pay attention to my movements. I notice each step that I take, I notice that I can walk, that I have sight and can use my sense of smell. I’ll walk outside and remind myself of the trees, the feel of grass, a friendly dog passing by, the sounds of birds. The ability to see leaves on the trees, the ability to move each leg, each individual finger.

These little feelings of appreciation are everywhere. 


Do Something Fun

Ask yourself, “What is the most fun I could be doing right now?” Then go do it!

Wake up extra early and get into alignment (a good-feeling place) by doing fun things that light you up! I write more about my morning routine here but just by taking some time to do something for you helps wonders in feeling appreciative. For me, that often looks like writing letters, watercolor painting or watching sorting and organizing videos on Youtube!

Bypass the Mind

Another technique of finding presence is by dropping into lower brain states. When you drop your alert mind to lower brain waves, you can more easily connect with your spirit, God and the Universe.  Try meditating, resting your eyes, and allowing each muscle in your body to relax – inch by inch. Often we are in Beta (normal waking consciousness) where we use our critical thinking and logic.

Oftentimes living in a higher state of Beta leads to stress, restlessness, and anxiety. When we drop down to Alpha or Theta, we are able to access a more peaceful state. 

Alpha is the gateway to your subconscious mind.

There is a relaxed detached awareness experienced in Alpha where you have increased imagination, clarity, memory and connection to your intuition. Brain waves deeper in Theta are experienced in Theta and profound creativity, inspiration and insight are typical, as well as a sense of deep spiritual connection and oneness with the Universe. 

Take a Nap

Lastly, taking a nap is an easy, surefire way to bypass icky feelings. When you’re in a particularly low state and can’t find any reason to be grateful, taking a short nap brings you back to a neutral level upon waking up. 

The Secret to a Consistently Joyful Life?

I hope these quick tips help you find more gratitude, presence, and appreciation in your everyday. I’ve mentioned before in this post that appreciation for the smallest, simplest things in your life is – in my personal opinion the secret to joy, and I can’t emphasize that enough. Having an appreciation for the simple things in your daily life leads to a longer, more fulfilled life. There is beauty in every detail, if only we pay attention to those simple things.

100 simple joys challenge video

Tips for Finding Daily Gratitude When It Feels Hard

By first becoming aware of what you are feeling in that present moment and then deliberately training your mind to take a moment every single day to note those daily appreciations, you create a lifelong enduring habit. 

The Power of Habit

Noticing the positive aspects of my daily life is a habit I started over 10 years ago, and it has carried with me throughout my journey, with its many pitfalls and stumbles along the way. My life has not been easy, but it feels easier because of the way I approach and view it. Now as an adult, my brain naturally goes to the positives, the glass-half-full.

My mind naturally lists the things I love and am appreciative for in my life because of this intentional habit. Creating intentional and values-based habits is powerful, to say the least.

It’s about choosing your thoughts rather than allowing them to lead you

For more gratitude tips, click here!

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Finding it Hard to Be Grateful? Try this.

August 25, 2019


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I'm Helena! As a creative storyteller, I document magical, emotionally honest family and children's portraiture. A lover of childhood, fairytales and natural light, I photograph families across the world. I'm the ultimate Disney nerd, and I'm obsessed with cats and expressing my love for the simple joys of slow, daily life.

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Helena Woods is a destination newborn and family photographer based in France and New England and travels worldwide. She is known for her natural light, modern classic, and emotive photography style.










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