How-to, Inspiration, Practice
Comments 5

A Gratitude Mandala Exercise for Those Challenging Times

It is easy to count our blessings when everything is sunny and cheery, when the kids are behaving, and the bank account is flush. We need our gratitude practice the most during challenging times. In this exercise, think about an area in your life where you are struggling. Maybe you are having a difficult time at work or with a specific person? As you work on this mandala design, think of eight things you are grateful for about this challenging situation or person. When you are done, I guarantee you’ll feel a greater appreciation for the situation, and you’ll have had fun making this mandala.

Bloom Where You Are Planted

Step 1: To create this mandala, I drew two circles and divided the outer ring into eight equal segments using a protractor and ruler. (45 degree increments)

Step 2: Fill each segment with doodled patterns using a black fine liner pen. Be sure to leave spaces for writing words and short phrases.

Step 3: Fill the shapes using bright juicy colors. Color has a way of lifting our moods. In the example above I used extra-fine point Sharpies.

Step 4: Think about a challenging situation you are experiencing in your life and record one thing you appreciate or feel gratitude about in each of the eight sections that you just colored. It helps to journal these words after applying the color so the words don’t bleed. In my example, I’m reflecting on what I’m grateful for in my day job. Some days I grow really weary trying to keep up with my creative projects. I’d rather play than work! You’ll see in each segment all of the things I’m grateful for that the day job brings: great people, lots of laughter, my own little office (not a cubicle), a steady income, using my skills, etc.

Step 5: At the center of the mandala fill with color and an inspiring quote. Here I chose the words, “Bloom where you are planted.”

Visual Reminders:

I have this mandala hanging up next to my desk. Any time I’m feeling stressed, overworked or frustrated, I look at the colorful patterns and read the little messages. It really helps me to turn my mood around, and remind me of all the good things surrounding me.

More Inspiration for Your Creative Journey

This mandala exercise is one of many projects found in my book, “The Mandala Guidebook: How to Draw, Paint and Color Expressive Mandala Art.”

Watch these free videos on how to draw and color mandalas.

Add to your learning library with these online classes Mandala Drawing I and Color I.

This entry was posted in: How-to, Inspiration, Practice


Kathryn Costa is an instigator of soulful and creative living. Her passion can be summed up in three little words: “create and connect.” Kathryn’s programs help people to find clarity, let go of fear, embrace their dreams, and explore their creativity. Kathryn has been an online community developer, teacher, and soulful guide for 12 years. Her unique teaching and coaching style integrates tools and practices from her training in Kaizen-Muse Creativity Coaching, Soul Coaching, The Virtue’s Project, and Jaguar Path Shamanic Apprenticeship Program.


  1. I love this idea! It’s so bright & cheery.. it can’t help but make you feel better! It always helps to look on the bright side of a bad situation. It’s just so hard to do in the moment!


  2. This is WONDERFUL! Thank you!

    I have a group on Facebook called “Attitude of Gratitude with Chronic Pain” and we are 3,000-strong of people who are working through gratitude to live happy and fulfilling lives despite our chronic pain/illness! We are a no-complaining zone!

    A few months ago we started a satellite page as well called the “AoG Journaling Club” for those members who wanted to start journaling to help deal with our struggles. We do a different challenge each month and November (2017) just finished 30 days of Zentangle patterns. I wasn’t sure what to offer for the very last day of the challenge and lo and behold, this beautiful masterpiece pops up that is absolutely PERFECT! Thank you! Not only did I just share this as the final day of the challenge in the journaling group, I’m going to share it in our main group as well as I think that even our non-journaling members could benefit from this.

    Thank you so much for sharing your gifts and I will let you know the response I get from my members!

    Lauren Zalewski


  3. Pingback: Gratitude Mandala Exercise for Challenging Times – True North Arts

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