When We Don’t Feel Thankful – 4 ways to rediscover gratitude
I have found myself in a mood where I don’t really feel much of anything. I’m just feeling blah. I know in times like these I can practice gratitude, pray, or even sing, and it will help begin to lift my mind and spirit out of this rut. But sometimes, even my go-to anecdotes feel cumbersome.
Does this sound familiar? Have you gotten into a rut of nothingness? You don’t feel like doing much, but manage to keep going through the motions. Covid has brought this sense of fatigue that can leave us feeling lost somewhere between joy and despair; a feeling of aimlessness. Some call this state languishing.
With Thanksgiving coming up, we know that gratitude and spending time reflecting on what we’re thankful for should be top of mind. What has been so fascinating to me is that in a state of hopelessness, gratitude holds extraordinary power. The difficult part is actually doing it. When you don’t “feel” like thanking and do it anyways, you are exercising a muscle that spontaneously grows. The next time you don’t “feel” like practicing gratitude, try remembering the last time you pushed through and did it anyways. You’ll have more faith that you can do it and it’s worthwhile. With time, this hopelessness decreases because of the experience gratitude gave you.
When we push through and try when we don’t feel like it, it can help to start with small steps. Just like exercising when you don’t feel like it – we might start with just ten minutes a day. There is hope for transformation, we just have to take the steps.
Cognitive neuroscientist Dr. Caroline Leaf has researched our brain and how we can actually change. She says that “when you are thankful, your brain releases nerve growth factors that help change the brain”. She calls this neuroplasticity. There is lots of science behind the power of gratitude.
Okay so we get it. Gratitude is important. How do we do it when we don’t feel like it?
- Schedule gratitude daily. Have a dedicated time that you speak out loud some things you are grateful for. It only needs to be a few minutes but the importance is scheduling it. This trains your brain to exercise the muscle of gratitude.
- Start small. You know that your mood isn’t always perfect, so expect that there will be times when the blues might try to creep in. Utilize those times to be grateful for even the simplest of things. “I am thankful for the sky; I am thankful for my shoes…”, whatever you need to do to start.
- Have a gratitude journal. Having a gratitude journal is an excellent way to build your faith when you don’t feel like it. You can look back at things you have been grateful for in the past, and watch as the gratefulness grows within you.
- Talk to someone. Sometimes when we don’t feel like ourselves, all it takes is a quick phone call to a good friend to help us snap out of it. As you are talking you may think, “hello wonderful self, there you are again!!” Connecting with others can help us rediscover ourselves.
Dr. Caroline says, “If you realized how powerful your thoughts are, you would never think a negative thought.” When we step into gratitude, we align ourselves with who we really are. It expands our ability to love and be loved. We are genuinely happier people most of the time. It doesn’t mean we don’t have struggles. But when the struggles come, we are prepared. For Thanksgiving this year, give yourself the gift of practicing gratitude. During these times of difficulty that have impacted so many, it holds more power than ever. It’s a remarkable gift that can have lasting effects beyond this season of gratitude.
An important note for our readers:
As long as feelings of hopelessness don’t stick around for over two weeks, it is in fact that, a case of the blues. Depressive symptoms have to last at least two weeks for there to be a chronic issue. If it is chronic, it is important that you find a good mental health counselor to talk to. Don’t ignore it.
Source: Dr. Caroline Leaf: https://drleaf.com/