"Gratitude and attitude are not challenges; they are choices." - Robert Braathe
Yesterday, in the US, we celebrated Thanksgiving, so gratitude has been on everyone's tongue.
I’m sure you’ve heard me talk about this before; gratitude is one of the most proven ways to boost happiness. It can boost our immune system, reduce stress, improve relationships, improve creativity, and so much more.
But what happens when we aren't feeling so grateful?
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What if you’re a little ticked off (or even seeing red)? Should you suck it up and just be grateful?
My guy asked me about this other day. There was a "situation" at his work and it was making his blood simmer (ok, boil).
He asked me, “What do you think? Should I be grateful for my job or should I stand up for myself and make a point?”
Great question...I answered, “both.”
Before you go thinking that isn’t possible, one of the amazing capabilities we have as humans is the ability to hold two contradicting thoughts at the same time. Some consider this to be evolved, intellectual thinking... but we all do it, more than we realize.
We can dislike a situation and still find aspects of it to be grateful for.
Anyway, back to the "situation" at hand. It’s tempting to say, just be grateful for what you have and leave it at that. After all, an "attitude of gratitude" is all the rage and it's got all those feel-good benefits.
Sometimes gratitude isn’t the answer…at least not the only one and not always right away.
We want to be mindful of where we place our gratitude.
We want to avoid gratitude in "situations" or for people who don’t warrant our gratitude, otherwise, gratitude turns into a form of avoidance or lying to ourselves.
Gratitude isn’t emotional duct tape.
Gratitude isn’t meant to be a scapegoat for other emotions or a way to avoid setting healthy boundaries.
Gratitude isn’t about spray painting and covering up toxic situations or people. Gratitude isn’t meant to gloss over important issues.
Gratitude has gotten a ton of press recently and for good reason. But, gratitude isn't something we can just throw a hashtag in front of and reap all the benefits. It has to be appropriated and mean something.
We can't use gratitude as a way to fake-positive our way out of unwanted emotions and "situations". Gratitude isn't a My Little Pony bandaid.
We can't use gratitude as a way to guilt or shame one another into doing what we want.
I'm not getting down on gratitude. I love the power of gratitude and have a have a daily gratitude practice. I use gratitude with my clients. I'm all about #gratitude.
I am getting down on using gratitude as a way to bypass and repress emotions or sticky "situations". We can’t use gratitude in place of processing our emotions, but we can use it in addition to.
Bringing it full circle back to my guy's "situation", that means first identifying and addressing what's being triggered and looking for a solution.
And, from there, practicing gratitude and reaping those benefits.
This isn’t about lying to ourselves and making up false reasons to be grateful. We really do want to think about what we can be grateful for or appreciate.
Maybe it’s not the situation, but the opportunity to handle it in a productive way and create change. Maybe it’s gratitude for how you handled your reactions. Maybe it’s gratitude for a different perspective, new idea, or lesson.
Still having a hard time coming up with something to feel grateful for? That's ok, it's the act of looking for something to be grateful for that counts.
So this year, after the Thanksgiving leftovers get finished and the stretchy pants are put away, I’d invite you to keep your attitude of gratitude. For those times when you’re feeling anything but grateful, use it as final step instead of the first step to processing your emotions.
Annnnnd, it must be said that I’m incredibly grateful for you. Whether you’re new to my world or have been with me since the beginning, I’m so grateful to be a part of your world. It’s truly an honor and a privilege. Thank you <3.
With so much gratitude and love!