Are We Gratitudinally-Challenged?

Are We Gratitudinally Challenged?

How’s your attitude of gratitude these days?

Are you brimming with positivity at the thought of another Monday morning commute? Simply thrilled that you are blessed by mountainous piles of laundry? Endlessly joy-bound by the dozens of toys that clutter your child’s bed? Awestruck at the good fortune of being allowed to pay your phone bill?

Probably not.

Well, I know I’m not, anyway.

Until I think about it like this:

  • a Monday morning commute means a job to go to.
  • mountains of laundry means a way to wash dirty clothes and clean clothes to wear.
  • toys for your children mean people love them and want to demonstrate that.
  • paying for your phone bill means you have money to do so and a phone to use.

How annoyingly sugar-coated, right? Trust me, even I am rolling my eyes here as I write that list. In fact, I thought long and hard before publishing this post. After all – you don’t need me to tell you how lucky you are to have a phone bill, or a job you don’t love.

But this is how gratitude works. It’s not just a matter of being grateful for the beautiful things. It’s quite easy to be grateful for a hug, a newborn baby, a good coffee, beach holidays, snowflakes and kisses.

But for me, the real power of gratitude lies in recognising the blessings in everything we have – particularly those things we take for granted.

But what if I’m not feeling it?

Last week, I was in a bad frame of mind. Just cranky and tired and all used up. To be honest, I didn’t want to feel grateful. I didn’t want to hear how lucky I was. I was wallowing, and damned be anyone who tried to snap me out of it.

That happens sometimes, I guess. People have bad days. The good seems…less so. We get caught up in the idea of, “I’ll be happy when…” Or “It’s easier for them because…”

I don’t buy it.

Yes, gratitude is hard. No, sometimes we don’t want to allow ourselves to feel grateful, because that will require us to stop wallowing. But the reality is, my mum was on to something when she routinely told me as a self-centred, moody teenager, “There are people in the world who would love to have your problems.” 

Someone is happy with less than you have. (via Slow Your Home)

Man, that really used to piss me off.

I didn’t want to hear that. If it didn’t improve my situation right then and there, I didn’t care.

But, as teenagers sometimes do, I had totally missed the point.

Understanding that there were people who would love to have my problems really could have improved my situation. Because, all of a sudden, the out-of-fashion trainers, the missing mixtape and the schoolyard gossip would have mattered so much less. Understanding my privilege could have brought about perspective.

But instead, I missed the opportunity to learn that lesson at 15. So here I am, at 31, still trying. Instead of teenage worries, I am now consumed with phone bills, laundry and clutter. But instead of getting lost in them, I’m trying (really, really trying) to see the good in those things.

I’m trying to flip it, and shift my perspective.

Sometimes it works and other times it doesn’t. But the more I practice this way of thinking, the closer my gratitude remains to the surface. It’s becoming easier to dip in and out of it as needed.

Yes, gratitude is hard. But it doesn’t mean we should stop aiming for it.


What’s one thing you can choose to be grateful for today? Even if you really, really don’t want to be? 


22 Responses to Are We Gratitudinally-Challenged?

  1. The phone bill one is definitely at the top of my list this month. Last month at this time I was trying to figure out how we were going to make it through the month and our internet actually got turned off the day I could make the payment. This month, I have the money for it early and can pay a lot of other bills a little before time as well. So, yeah, I AM thankful for being able to pay bills! :)

  2. Unfortunately, for most of the time I’m a real pessimistic person…But this way I can be grateful each time my expectations do not come true. I just have to keep that in mind and keep repeating it to myself :)

    • You know, that’s my go-to mindset too – one of pessimism. It’s taken me 10 years of being aware of that, and finally I’m starting to learn how to shift towards a more abundant mindset. It’s hard work and it doesn’t come naturally, isn’t it. So let’s keep on repeating it together. xx

      • You are right, it does not come naturally!
        I suppose pessimism is a kind of self-defense technique. If you keep saying that something you want does not gonna happen, it will hurt less if you are right, since you prepared yourself for this.

        This mindset gives the “emotional safety”, just like the stuff we keep because of sentimental reasons.
        So I suppose this mindset needs to be decluttered as well…

  3. When Im really down and things are overwhelming me I make a point of writing down 5 things I am grateful for before I go to sleep at night. Some days I struggle to find 1, but by doing this it helps me appreciate what I have and be more able to look at things from a different perspective. It gets you in the ‘Lifes 10% what happens to you and 90% how you react to it’ mindset, and I find once I start being grateful for what I have, more good things come my way. :o)

    • Yes, yes and yes!

      “doing this it helps me appreciate what I have and be more able to look at things from a different perspective. It gets you in the ‘Lifes 10% what happens to you and 90% how you react to it’ mindset”

      I love this so much, Jo. Thanks for the inspiration! x

  4. Thank you so much for this post. I am trying hard to be grateful for a job that I don’t love at all. I am looking for another job but in the meantime, I am grateful that I have this job and that I can pay my bills.

    • It’s hard, and I feel for you! I love two things about your response though – you’re working on moving away from that job, meaning you’re taking control of your own situation – and the fact that you’re working really hard to find the positives. Keep at it! x

  5. I’m grateful that I’ve learned that the wallowing is just that–wallowing. I allow myself to feel crappy (because sometimes we just do, no matter how much we’ve got to be grateful for) but even while doing so, I know that I’ve got it really good. And that’s come from doing the kind of mental work you talk about here. Doing it when I’m feeling good helps me better tolerate the times I’m not.

  6. I’m so grateful for this post today Brooke!I. I had a particularly heinous day at work and came home of unwinding and this was the first post on my bloglovin feed.

    So from all the negative of today, I’m grateful that my husband saw I needed him and cancelled his plans to be with me. And that my girl kept me entertained all during dinner, telling me she loves me and singing “you make me happy” by Clare Bowditch.

    Made me realise family is my number one and I need to look forward to getting back to them each day.

  7. What am I grateful for even though I dont want to be that would be paying bills….I absolutely hate seeing the money disappear slowly but, surely to someone else but, I am grateful for the fact that I do have the money to pay my bills.

  8. I absolutely love this post and it is so perfect for the season we are in. I too have had a rough period emotionally trying to figure out my next steps in life and where I want to go and what I want to do. And the best part is, I’m blessed with the time, ability and resources to figure it out and be more than ok financially. A complete mind-set changer. Thank you!

  9. ‘ I missed the opportunity to learn that lesson at 15’ – Brooke, my kids are 16, 12 and 10, and I am trying to teach them every day that they are there is always something to be grateful for, despite their tendencies to focus on what they don’t have/ think they’re missing out on/ see as a problem (as we all do!), and by George, I think they’re getting it!! Our life as a family has run the gauntlet of abundance and struggle, prosperity and less, in both a ‘tangible’ (financial, materialistic) and emotional sense, and we have all had to learn the lessons of gratitude in a very real way. Most nights at the dinner table, we go around and say what we’re grateful for that day, and it ranges from the ridiculous to the sublime, from the sweetly simple to the sobering, and is becoming one of my favourite times for us as a time for us as a family.
    As for me, today I’m grateful for letting go of perfectionism, that I could ignore the mounting housework and rest when it was very much needed.

  10. I struggle with gratitude but my goal this year is more pleases & thank yous. So far I’ve found that puts me in a more positive frame of mind because I’m appreciating others. So maybe the next step is gratitude.

  11. The thing that is hardest for me in my life is my health (or lack thereof.) But I also try to be grateful for the health that I do have. Unlike so many others, I am able to get out of bed every day, shower and get dressed most days, and generally care for myself. I also have the cognitive capacity to do my own medical research, and that’s something I couldn’t do for a while. I would read the same page 3 or 4 times and not understand it because my memory and concentration were so horrible. Now I can do that research and am coming up with some promising new approaches. I try to remember all of this on the days that I feel my sickest and it really does help.

  12. Exhaustion and over scheduling also impedes our ability to experience gratitude. At this time in my life I am working to take on less and engage more. When successful, I enjoy life more and feel gratitude without effort. Thanks for starting the discussion.

  13. Today I am grateful for my gluten sensitivity, which may sound strange to people who often look at me with pity when I have to pass up a pastry, but in the long run it has given me back my health that I never quite knew I had. To live without knee pain and stomach cramps is far better than living with sliced bread and butter.

  14. My 5 year old daughter has just come to understand the word ‘lucky’. She is constantly telling me, ‘We are such lucky people, aren’t we Mum?’ It never fails to bring a smile to my face and remind me how, in fact, lucky we are, no matter how bad my day is.

  15. Hi there, I’ve just found your wonderful blog and am reading loads of posts!

    Interestingly, my husband and I were pretty good at being grateful when we faced a long and difficult medical situation. We were glad it wasn’t someone else. We were glad that there was a positive outlook. We were glad that friends and family were so supportive. All sorts.

    On a day to day basis I am pretty rubbish at being grateful. Must practise.

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