Gratitude When You're Feeling Ungrateful

By: Amanda Watson

Practice gratitude. It’s a mantra we hear repeated oftensometimes so often it feels like a command. Like, if you are not grateful there is no place for you in society. Despite any hard circumstances—whether it is a singular bad day, a series of bad days or a seismic shift that changes circumstances for the worse, we seem to have the expectation that practicing gratitude is a must at all times.

I’ve generally subscribed to this mentality. Attitude is important. Studies have repeatedly proven this. In my own life, I’ve noticed good begets good, opportunity begets opportunity and the opposite is also true. The expectation of myself and others that we each find the good, seek the silver lining, and cherish what we have is really just a quality personality trait.

But, how can we practice gratitude when we just aren’t feeling it?  I am sure I am not alone in saying that I had hoped 2021 would be a more positive, more productive, less scary year than the previous year. Instead, it was packed with turmoil, numerous global humanitarian and health crises and the return of mass shootings. And, we got to face it all with fewer social skills and being generally less understanding of our neighbors.

This week, when Americans gather over a much-too-big meal to celebrate a holiday that even in name asks us to be grateful, many of us will instead reflect on a year that was rife with challenges and heartbreak. Finding the good can feel like a stretch. Speaking of stretching, the other day while lying in shavasana after a yoga practice, my instructor noted that global circumstances paired with our own personal trials can make practicing gratitude feel inauthentic. Instead, during tough times, gratitude may just look more like the exercise of crossing a busy street.


Take a minute. Breathe. Ground yourself.


Observe everything around you. Comprehend your surroundings. Consider how all of the elements have a unique impact.


Make progress. Move forward.

I am pretty good at the “go” part of this equation and much worse at the “stop” part, which can make me feel like I am just walking into busy traffic without considering the risks or what is at stake. This Thanksgiving, rather than attempting to force gratitude– I am going to focus on grounding, observing and making progress.

Sending love to each of you.