Practicing Gratitude When Everything is the Worst

Sometimes we don't feel grateful even when we "should" - and that's okay. Life is still amazing.
Photo by Ray Chan.

“If all you did was just looked for things to appreciate, you would live a joyously spectacular life.”
― Esther Abraham Hicks

I love this quote and its reminder to appreciate everything in life.

As someone who recently went through a period of mourning, however, I also feel it's necessary to point out that it's okay if you are grieving a loss and don't feel particularly appreciative at this moment.

When I was feeling unenthusiastic about everything, my gratitude lost its sheen. Remembering things that I was grateful for didn't immediately transform my mood or perspective like it has in the past. It was more of an exercise in technicality: I would note that something had happened and that objectively, it was a good thing.

My official stance on the matter was grateful, even if I was unable to muster up the emotion.

I felt a bit like Eeyore, looking out from my gloomy place, and noticing that the sun was shining, birds were singing, and that I had friends who were inviting me out on an adventure. It was all there, and I knew it was all good, but it didn't pierce the veil on an emotional level.

It's okay to be an Eeyore and not feel grateful when you know there are good things in life.

Which, it turns out, is totally fine!

In my book, Feeling Better: A Field Guide to Liking Yourself, I talk about the power of gratitude to transform your mood and perspective. I refer to it as the closest thing we have to a magical, life-changing pill. I still think this is true, and I am now more keenly aware of the other side and that it also might not make such a noticeable change every single time.

It's still worth it, though.

It's still good to remind yourself that there are good things in your life, even if it just feels like checking a mental box. It helps to note that the objective reality of your life is not misery, even if it subjectively feels that way right at the moment.

You can say, "my commute to work was quick and easy and that is good," or, "I had a drink with a good friend who cares about me and I care about them," or, "my cat just curled up in my lap and started purring which has always been my favourite thing," and leave it at that. A good thing has happened, and you are allowed to feel however the heck you feel at the same time.

Your life is still spectacular, even when it doesn't feel that way, and you're still awesome, even if you feel like crap.

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