For Days When Gratitude is Hard to Find

A close-up photo of a woman's face. Her hands are blocking most of it so you can't see her expression, but it seems like she's happy under there.
Photo by Melanie Kruetz.

Sometimes the whole gratitude thing is hard to muster. We know (or rather, I know, I can't speak for all of you) that a life lived with gratitude is, by default, a good life. I know that gratitude can change my perspective on a tough situation and that it can turn my mood around in an instant.

And yet, sometimes... I just can't quite do it. I look around at my life and go, "yeah, there's a lot of good stuff here, I guess..." and stare into the middle distance, listlessly wondering why I can't feel better when there are so many blessings all around me.

Part of the problem, of course, is trying to force a feeling. I can recognize the things I'm grateful for, but I can't generate a state of rapturous awe, no matter how many good there is in my life. Sometimes, things are just rough and you can't trick yourself out of feeling it.

I recently came across some prompts that can help with that from a newsletter for The Art of Noticing by Rob Walker.

He talks about habituation and the fact that people can get used to anything, which is great for getting through the day-to-day (as he says, "We can’t all go through life constantly agog at the marvels of indoor plumbing or refrigeration"), but less ideal when it comes to actually experiencing life.

Rob Walker suggests a few prompts for things to notice that we may have taken for granted. For each of these, the idea is to stop and not just think of a good thing, but something in your daily life that you have gotten so used to you've forgotten how great it is:

- A human-made miracle.
- A miracle of nature.
- A person who you enjoy (in real life or digitally).
- Something you consistently love that everyone else seems habituated to (or doesn't even like).
- An activity you take for granted but would be sad to see it disappear (this one might be too real for all of us, thanks to the 'vid).

I like these because they give you something to start with. Even if you don't feel particularly grateful for anything at the moment, you can probably think of a person in your life who you enjoy or a human-made miracle that you interact with every day.

Walker doesn't say this, but I would suggest taking a few minutes, once you've thought of the thing, to consider it more deeply: what you use it for, how it benefits you and others, what you enjoy about it. This extra bit of thought lets it sink in a little more than just a checklist.

Excuse me, I have some miracles to consider.

The Receptionist Delivers!
Sign up for my email newsletter for a bi-weekly digest and bonus content!

1 comment: