When gratitude is promoted, especially during this season, does it bring up all the ways in which you feel ungrateful? Or when people wish you joy and peace, do you feel puzzled if you're surrounded by chaos and stress?
Does it make you feel guilty that you're not more grateful, that you don't have a gratitude journal, or you don't do the next gratitude fad going down the street? So many questions, and I want to try to give you some real answers.
I sometimes feel like that, so I totally understand. But here's the thing: having a gratitude practice has been shown through studies by numerous researchers, gurus, authors, etc. (google it if you don't believe me) to have myriad benefits on your health and relationships. So... it's kind of important.
If you're a skeptic, it's easy to roll your eyes and wonder how being grateful for having heat, a healthy hot meal, or running water will help you deal with the meeting with your boss at 8am sharp. It won't change anything you think. It won't make a difference.
So what's the point of gratitude? Gratitude helps improve your health, it increases resilience to stress, it helps improve mood and overall happiness, it increases life expectancy, among many other things. So who doesn't want to feel happier? It's one of the reasons people make the dreaded New Year's resolutions: if we do X (lose weight, get organized, get a new job, etc.), we'll finally be happy.
Here's the thing: if you practice gratitude, your happiness may not be conditional upon accomplishing those often elusive goals. Brené Brown explains that those who live a wholehearted life (believe they are enough no matter how productive they are and have the courage to be imperfect) have a gratitude PRACTICE.
I'm going to follow up next week on HOW to make a gratitude practice so it doesn't feel elusive, silly, corny, or pointless.