You Don't Have to Be Grateful
Forcing gratitude has never worked.
Happy Thanksgiving for those of you who celebrate! I hope ease finds you today. I was going through some of my older posts, back when this newsletter was on a different platform, and I wanted to republish this article. I hope you enjoy.
Forcing gratitude has never worked—I learned that early on. This practice isn't about making ourselves see the bright side. For me, it's about leaning in and looking at my life up close. It’s about wrapping my hands around the truth of what is and being open to the lessons that appear. Most of us live our lives zoomed out—so far out that we can't see the things that really matter. The blessing of this practice is the ability to hold two things or multiple truths at once. We are allowed to be grateful for what we have and still strive for more. We are allowed to not be grateful for the things that broke us but still find a sense of peace, self-love, and kindness as we heal. Gratitude practice is not all or nothing. It is not rooted in judgment or shame. Instead, it should ground us into our truth, self-compassion, and curiosity.
There are many things in my life that I am not grateful for. There are things from my childhood and past that really shake me up and make me feel sad, even to this day. I know there will be events in my life that I will never "get over"— and that I'll have to continue to move through with grace, ease, and patience. My gratitude practice has taught me multiple times that I can love myself through the heaviness and pain of my past. I can soothe myself. I've gained the tools along the way through therapy, healing work, and self-awareness that create a sense of emotional safety. That is where I find the glory of grateful living. It's not in the trauma—that's not what I'm grateful for. It's in the growth.
If we start looking at our gratitude practice with ease versus force, our emotional load will be lightened. Reframing what it means to be grateful is where we learn the most about what we want and need on a personal level. My gratitude won't look like yours, and vice versa. Folks often say hindsight is twenty-twenty, and while yes, it can be—there are still some things in my life that I cannot look at and say, "I am thankful that happened to me." What I've learned on this road of grateful living is that I can say, "I am thankful that I learned how to care for myself through the heartache." When we zoom in and examine our lives up close, the good and challenging parts, we can more readily see the truth. Gratitude doesn't fix things. It illuminates and softens. That is what I had to make peace with when I first started this practice. No amount of positive thinking would make me grateful for things that I simply wasn't grateful for.
Community Questions (leave a comment):
Finish this sentence: I am still worthy when…
What is gratitude showing you about grief?
How are honoring the truth of your feelings when they’re heavy to hold?
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