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Let's Be Honest- Sometimes It's Hard To Be Grateful.

With the Thanksgiving holiday right around the corner, gratitude will soon become the center of conversation at many turkey dinners. It's as good a time as any to take stock of what we are thankful for and give appreciation. I only wish it were that simple.

Sometimes I just don't know how to be grateful… I want there to be a single, straightforward explanation that would justify that statement. It would be easier to say that I suddenly lost the ability, or I forgot how to do it, or maybe even that I just downright didn’t want to… but unfortunately I did not forget and there are plenty of things I don't feel like doing…

Wash the dishes. Take the dog for a walk. Call the insurance company. Pay that overdue bill.

…that all miraculously gets done (most of the time anyway). Some people might stop reading here and assume my groundbreaking advice is therefore some derivative of Nike’s beloved slogan, Just. Do. It. If you can check all of that off, if you have even the opportunity to do so, why can't you Just. Be. Grateful.

Admittedly, there is so much in my life to be appreciative of, and when life slings its general nonsense my way, I can typically keep a perspective of this is temporary. But recently it has launched some additional torpedoes of torment, and it feels like the universe is choosing me on which to aim its wrath. Why is it in these moments that I can so readily pick out everything I don't have, rather than look at everything I do? Maybe people nowadays would consider this to be a sign of an ungrateful, spoiled, self-indulgent millennial, right? The nothing is ever good enough mentality. "In my day, we never complained like y'all do…" The thought has certainly crossed my own mind, but with fear of showing bias, I have to believe that isn't the real issue at hand… that it has more to do with evolution and less to do with willpower.

Our brain is built to notice the negative. It's what has kept us safe, alive even, for hundreds of years. If there's a problem, you can bet our brain is going to spotlight it with laser focus. Most of the time it's to our benefit so that we can come up with a resolution, implement it, and move forward. But what happens when it feels like there's a problem at every corner… no nice reprieve or seeming light at the end of the tunnel? Our mind starts to become overrun by the tornado of negativity. And now, when you go to rack your brain for 'what is good in my life, what can I hold onto right now', those things that you can typically conjure to fall back on seem to become overshadowed and harder to recognize. It's as though a black hole has been created, and nothing, not even our little glimmers of light…

My family is supportive, I have a place to live and sleep, I am able to do so many things

can escape. It isn't that I'm suddenly unaware that those things exist, but more so that I'm being affected by the black hole.

I guess it is with all of this in mind that I say the following, a reminder for myself just as much as the next person…

You are not a bad person if you're struggling to be grateful. You are not selfish or thankless and there is nothing wrong with you. You are human. Sometimes our mind works against us despite our best efforts. So, rather than following Nike's word, I'm going to go with something a little more suitable for me. Just try it.

"Today, I will make a conscious choice to look for and hone in on what I might struggle to see, what my brain struggles to see. It will take a good amount of willingness and effort, but doing so will pay its dividends. And if I can't, that is okay too. When my mind is acting as stubborn as a toddler without a nap, I will not force it into submission. I will let it be. I will give it grace and return at another time to try again."

If you need additional support in navigating the upcoming holidays, please reach out through The Mynd Clinic to set up an appointment.


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