An Obstacle to Feeling Grateful
Next week is the Thanksgiving holiday in the United States. Thanksgiving is our favorite holiday because it celebrates an attitude of gratitude—one of the most important practices to cultivate as a Creator. Giving thanks and feeling grateful is a fundamental principle in all the great cultures and religions.
You are supposed to feel grateful, right? What happens if for some reason you just aren’t feelin’ it right now? You know you are supposed to feel grateful, but it just isn’t happening. You may have tried restating affirmations and “mantras” and thinking positively, but you are still feeling down.
If you force yourself to feel grateful, it can feel like an obligation, making it a problem that you are not feeling grateful. In a weird twist you may be feeling victimized by the social pressure to feel grateful when you really don’t. What to do?
All of us live on a continuum between gratitude and feeling grumpy. Trying to force yourself to feel grateful, and “shoulding” on yourself for not, may be the biggest obstacle to feeling thankful. Gratitude may become a duty rather than an authentic emotional state.
Accepting your current emotional state, rather than making it a problem, is actually a leap forward. In fact, noticing that you are not feeling grateful increases your self-awareness, which eventually seeds the gratitude soil.
We recommend you give yourself a break and understand that occasional complaints and negativity is normal. Everyone has times where they feel down and can’t see the good.
If you force yourself to “act” grateful, others will most likely see through it and you will seem disingenuous. It is better to own your authentic self rather than play-acting. Which may push you into a deeper state of thanklessness.
We are not talking about constantly reveling in being grumpy and cranky—instead personally own your current state and take responsibility for taking a few steps that are known to contribute to feeling better.
Our recommendation is that you accept where you are and heap an extra helping of appreciation and kindness for yourself for being aware of your current state. Instead of adding more pressure to your life, ease up and try a few things that are known to lift your mood—and a better mood makes gratitude possible.
Here are a few Baby Steps that can contribute to a more positive mood:
- Play your favorite music for 10-15 minutes, even dance around your home or office getting your body moving (may want to close the door or put headsets on!). Neurological research has proven your favorite music, and dancing, is almost an instant mood changer…for the good.
- Text someone for no reason and tell them how much you appreciate them. We are social creatures, so reaching out and touching someone can shift your mood for the better.
- Do a good deed for someone anonymously. For example, bring a flower to work and place it on someone’s desk and have fun listening to their curious and fun chatter trying to figure out who gifted them a flower.
- Use your body to elevate your mood; start by simply smiling. Pause now and put a huge smile on your face. Notice the shift? Now frown. Feel the forehead tightening and the contracted sensations in your face and chest. Smiling is a naturally mood shifter.
When you are in a positive mood you are gradually seeding a state of gratitude. Accept where you are and without forcing gratitude when you are not feelin’ it, then try a few small steps that can elevate your mood. In this state you will be cultivating the soil for gratitude with yourself and life in general, while nourishing your Creator essence, which is naturally present.