Finding Gratitude When You Don’t Feel Grateful

April 6, 2021


On this show...we may have to dig deep, we may have to open our eyes to a new perspective, and we may have to reserve judgment until we’ve completed our exploration because we are finding gratitude even when we don’t feel grateful. Let’s be honest, I’m not thrilled every second of the day. Over the last year, season, month, and day I’ve been disappointed let down, and frustrated feeling anything but thankful. When you are sinking in the bog of displeasure it’s difficult to count your lucky stars! Don’t you question the whole gratitude practice at least from time to time? Well, friend, you’re not alone. Don’t beat yourself up - instead, we are going to rise above this disillusionment and bring the bigger picture into focus because YES, right out of the gate, there are thankful elements to even the most distressing.

So to get us started I looked up the definition for gratitude and grateful: the quality of being thankful; readiness to show appreciation for and to return kindness. feeling or showing an appreciation of kindness; thankful.

Now that’s more like it. Showing appreciation and kindness. Shouldn’t that be part of our everyday practice? I’m not sure if it’s just me but the whole “gratitude movement” has made finding gratitude seem like a huge event that you have to experience before you can start your day on the right foot. If you can’t get there emotionally then your entire day shall be doomed! Push out all the negative feelings and only embrace the positive ones. Don’t you dare get out of that bed until you purge your bad and find 5 reasons to smile today. 

Now don’t get me wrong, all of these are good things. I love taking negative thoughts and reframing them to find the good. But with anything, a slight twist of perception and the good intent can be thrown completely off. You will have bad thoughts. You will roll your eyes, grumble, and possibly growl. You stub your foot and you might more than likely scream and potentially curse. When you are asked to stay late or give up a fun weekend you will feel salty. You are human! 

Finding gratitude doesn’t mean you can’t be human. With everything, we strive for we should be striving for balance. Counterbalance your negative with a healthy dose of positive. Before your low mood takes you down find a positive to give you a hand up. 

So YES we should be looking for things in our lives to be thankful for. We should embody this feeling of appreciation and show kindness to others. Help them find their gratitude. But that won’t stop yucky things from happening and the feeling of getting the short end of the stick from time to time. 

Mitch Horowitz shares The benefits — and limits — of today’s gratitude movement in an article for the Washington Post


Dr. Summer Allen tells us  Why Is Gratitude So Hard for Some People? In an article she wrote for Greater Good Magazine

  1. Your grateful genes
  2. Your grateful (or less grateful) brain
  3. Personality pitfalls

I do an exercise with the women in rehab that includes journaling and visualization. It is to write down 1-3 events that have happened in your life that bring you joy. This could be something you’re particularly proud of, something you love, something that created excitement, or just a warm and fuzzy feeling. Now, for each event, add as many details as you can remember. From what the day was like, to how you felt, even as granular as your face hurt from smiling or you hugged so hard you couldn't let go. The more details the easier it is to transport yourself back to this moment and relive that joyous feeling. That feeling will deliver a healthy dose of happy chemicals into your brain. 

When you are in a dark place, feeling low, or angry, and frustrated, it’s hard to conjure up these feelings and much easier to grab a drink or a substance to quickly do the trick. 

Instead, refer back to your journal, pick out one of these events, and transport yourself to a happier place and time. Help yourself naturally feel better. 

Sarah Steckler tells us  Why she no longer focuses on gratitude lists or being more "positive" in her blog mindfulproductivity.

Here are some major myths and assumptions we make all the time:

Myth #1: If you have something good, you can’t have something bad

Just because you have things to be grateful for doesn't mean you can't have things that feel off, upsetting, uncomfortable, or not aligned with what you truly want. 

Myth #2: If you have something that someone else doesn’t, you should never complain

Myth #3: The best way to feel better is to focus on the positive

While there are solid and scientifically founded ways of creating neural pathways in your brain that habitually lean toward the positive, the only way out of things is through them

Myth #4: If you’re not happy, something is wrong with you

There’s such a big push for happiness these days. Endless books on how to be happier, how to be a certain % happier, how to be happier in different locations. And while I won’t discredit the merit within those books and that many of those things do in fact help and improve life, it can start to make you feel like there’s something wrong with you if you’re not happy.

Tomorrow when you wake up, take a moment and feel your emotions instead of being quick to dismiss them as you wake up your gratitude muscle. Look for ways to appreciate yourself as you focus on sharing kindness with others. These acts will lead a way to feeling grateful.

CHALLENGE: Feeling grateful and less than grateful are both human emotions so give yourself a break. Take action to understand your feelings while exercising your gratitude muscle. Making it a daily practice takes time and should be at your own pace instead of handed to you. No cliches here but YOU GOT THIS!


I Know YOU Can Do It!

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