Today I’m sharing an updated version of a message I wrote several years ago before Thanksgiving. It feels even more relevant today…
With Thanksgiving coming up, we’re reminded to be grateful and count our blessings. I journal daily, and decided a few days ago that it was a good time to list everything in my life that is good. My joys, my loves, my physical and mental health, a great community, and the support of family and friends top my list. Science has proven that stopping to pause in gratitude is smart and good for our mental health. According to Psychology Today, “…mentally strong people choose to exchange self-pity for gratitude.”
I believe the science and have personally experienced the benefits of pausing to be grateful in the midst of disappointment, sadness and frustration. So what’s with the title of this message?
All of the popular encouragement to remember everything we have to be grateful for, to consider how much we have, and to focus on the positive has a dark side when we feel it’s not okay to acknowledge and process the very real human pain and suffering that plays out in everyday life.
When Grateful Can Be…Grating
These days people are so quick to remind us how fortunate we are…“at least you’re all okay.” And, it’s done from a good place of wanting to provide comfort and solace. But, between the pandemic and its impact on the economy, I’ve spoken to a lot of people who are suffering. That’s real and can’t be wished away. And, when someone’s lost a family member, or a friend, or a job, there is real grief to process.
Encouraging them to focus on the positive can convey the message that we don’t want to hear how hard it is. And, in the process we shut down a vital communications channel that can help in the healing.
If you’re feeling like everyone is telling you to keep your head up, I understand. I’ve been there. And I know it isn’t necessarily what you want to hear.
The holidays can be a difficult time for many of us. This is especially true if life isn’t wonderful right now. Maybe you’re missing your family and Zoom just doesn’t do it. Maybe there’s so much on your plate you don’t have time for you. Maybe your career has been swept out from under you. Maybe you’ve lost someone, as I have, and you get caught in memories and realize that some things just won’t be the same anymore.
I say allow yourself to feel it. “What a Wonderful World,” by Louie Armstrong is a beautiful, positive song with a poignancy that makes it perfect for a good cry. Go ahead and cry. Allow yourself to be sad, angry, whatever. Then you can pause and acknowledge that while life can suck, there is probably something you have to be grateful for.
I am grateful to you, dear readers. You keep me going. I’m grateful when you reach out and tell me I’ve made a difference. I’m grateful for this work and the chance to be of service.