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Honestly Ungrateful. Tuesday May 16, 2017

Some days it's damn hard to be grateful. To be truly grateful for small things is life changing, it is scientifically proven. Think of three good things right now:

1. A good thing that has happened today, no matter how small.
2. Something that is going well in your life.
3. Notice something you really appreciated recently.

Go on, I challenge you to.

If you have done that, there is a shift in your brain that has occurred and you have become part of the positive psychology revolution. If you carry on doing this over several days it becomes a 'Happiness Habit'. The frontal cortex of your brain actually changes shape, the muscles become stronger and you are literally training yourself to be more aware of the good things in your life.

I know all this. I believe it. I live it. I study it. But. Some days I am so flat I cannot stand. Even the word grateful is too heavy to hold. On those days, shutting my eyes can make my head spin on it's internal roller coaster. So I stare at my discarded books, sweat stained washing and try to find the small voice under it all. Buried under successful Facebook statuses, or triumphant Twitter announcements. A persistent tapping of: 'I'm tired.'

Gratitude has to be authentic. It needs to come from a place of connecting with what is happening in my real life and not my life in comparison with others. I know I should be on my knees grateful for every damn day I live. I live in a city free from war. I have opportunities at every street corner. I do not worry about having food on my plate, or in my children's mouths. I know I live in a society that is materially rich.

On the days my mind is taken apart by my body's inability to move, it's important to remember to listen to the hidden voice, amidst the should, could and must.

The smell of a perfume that brings me into the present moment. The time I took to savour the drink I was able to swallow before beginning my day. An authentic moment to connect to the freedom I have to think my own thoughts. These are the things I am grateful for.

On the days when I truly cannot bear to acknowledge these things, it's time to rest. Delegate. Get help. Notice. Trust there is a difference between giving up and knowing when I've had enough. I'm not a rule follower, I'm not always grateful. Trust me though, it's essential to pack a working torch when you go on an adventure into the dark.

A Moodscope member.

Thoughts on the above? Please feel free to post a comment below.

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Orangeblossom Tue, May 16th 2017 @ 7:22am

Thanks for your very encouraging & thought provoking blog. I shall take note of your suggestions & try to apply it to my life. When I feel bad it is usually because I am indulging in negative, fear filled thoughts!

anita Tue, May 16th 2017 @ 8:47pm

It's hard sometimes right? I do it when I can and it does seem to make a difference. xx

Tutti Frutti Tue, May 16th 2017 @ 7:53am

Hi Anita
An interesting blog thanks. I tried it and managed the 3 things today although I struggled a bit with number 3 but I am in an ok place. I can imagine it would be really hard on darker days. My gratitude muscles clearly need practice - not that I am very good at keeping up regular exercise so whether I will actually manage? ...
Love TF x
PS Dragonfly I have replied to you on yesterday's blog.

Dragonfly Tue, May 16th 2017 @ 7:06pm

Thank you TF. I did come across your kind and encouraging response, to which I say how brave and strong you appear to be x

anita Tue, May 16th 2017 @ 8:48pm

it doesn't have to be every day - just some days. I think it's important to be gentle with ourselves.

Hopeful One Tue, May 16th 2017 @ 8:08am

Hi Anita- thanks for a thought provoking blog. As you say this 'attitude of gratitude' is a habit and like all habits benefits from repetition.I think its perfectly acceptable if, from time to time, one cannot do it for all sorts of reasons . Hopefully the attitude is not sacrificed during these lapses.

Warning : today's laugh has a religious back ground and makes assumptions of sexual morality which may be offensive to some readers.

A teenage boy goes to church to confess his sins.
“Forgive me Father, for I have sinned. I have been with a loose girl.”
The priest asks, “Is that you, little Tommy O’Shaughnessy?”
‘Yes, Father, it is.”
“And who was the girl you were with?”
“I can’t tell you, Father. I don’t want to ruin her reputation.”
“Well, Tommy, I’m sure to find out her name sooner or later, so you may as well tell me now. Was it Patricia Fitzgerald?”
“I cannot say.”
“Was it Lisa O’Shanter?”
“I’ll never tell.”
“Was it Cathy O’Dell?”
“I’m sorry, but I cannot name her.”
“Was it Fiona Mallory?”
“My lips are sealed.”
“Was it Brenda O’Malley, then?”
“Please, Father, I cannot tell you.”
The priest sighs in frustration. “You’re very tight-lipped, and I admire that. But you’ve sinned, and you have to atone. You can no longer be an altar boy until 4 months have passed. Now you go and behave yourself.”
“Yes, Father.”
Tommy walks back to his pew, and his friend Sean slides over and whispers, “What’d you get?”
“Four months vacation and five good leads!”

The librarian Tue, May 16th 2017 @ 2:01pm


LP Tue, May 16th 2017 @ 8:15am

Hi Anita,
I feel grateful for every morning that I wake up feeling ok.
I really liked your last sentence, that its important to pack a working torch on an adventure into the dark.
I've heard before that gratitude, feeling truly grateful, (rather than in an "ought to' way), really helps.
Thank you for sharing that working torch!
Wishing wellness and light to all. LPxx

anita Tue, May 16th 2017 @ 8:49pm

<3 <3 x

Norman Tue, May 16th 2017 @ 8:27am

Every night my partner and myself tell each other three good things that have happened in the day. I could never do it on my own but having another person there makes it easier.

anita Tue, May 16th 2017 @ 8:50pm

good idea - important conversations and strong habits being built. x

Sal Tue, May 16th 2017 @ 9:42am

Thanks Anita, I was very touched by your post, it felt very vivid and immediate. Especially the sentence 'Trust there is a difference between giving up and knowing when I've had enough.' I can certainly relate to that. Being kind enough to ourselves to acknowledge it, and to find ways to give ourselves rest, is IMO just as helpful as cultivating the gratitude habit, which I also value. Thanks again, and best wishes.

anita Tue, May 16th 2017 @ 9:06pm

absolutely x

Anne Tue, May 16th 2017 @ 9:45am

Thank you Anita for a timely blog that spoke to me, whilst I do record what I am grateful for and do it daily (even when I don't want to!) - knowing and feeling grateful, particularly when it's 'dark' can take energy or resources I just don't have.

I appreciate the reminder that I am a human and with this goes vulnerability, I am a work in progress!

anita Tue, May 16th 2017 @ 9:07pm

yes. Me too x

The Gardener Tue, May 16th 2017 @ 10:30am

Hello Anita - you have provoked me! To find some good in this morning. Mr G had me up in the night 'seriously ill' more than once. Means getting up, pacifying him - dealing with supplementary complaints then trying to settle again, started again early morning - abandoned task to nurses. Then people booked to visit house for sale did not turn up. Two bits of gratitude - that it's a fabulous day, garden to be visited fabulous, and that I have the health and thinking power left to deal with these tribulations - trying to be cheerful and avoid stress headaches another matter.

anita Tue, May 16th 2017 @ 9:08pm

xx I appreciate you sharing your experience with me xx

The librarian Tue, May 16th 2017 @ 2:00pm

Dear Anita,

Thank you for your blog - I too have hit that point where I need to rest. It's a point I get to sometimes where - no matter how hard I try - I'm struggle to feel anything good.

I think it's important to be honest about times when it is a struggle to feel grateful and when these tougher times hit, and to realise that the harder I try, the worse it gets - knowing when it's time to let go. Thank you for being open and honest about your experience of it.

It doesn't seem possible to haul myself out of my introverted cage and find the words or a way to communicate how bleak I am feeling at the moment. But I know it will pass in its own time and its own way.

Every evening, I pray the Examen - an Ignation prayer that takes you through the day, looking at all that has given life and all that has deadened life during the day, all that can be seen with gratitude and all that needs forgiveness and healing. It's a way of trying to encompass all the many shades of life - not just polarising everything into positive and negative.

I like doing it internally because I am trying to build up the stock of good stuff inside me and familiarise myself with the range of feelings a human can feel without being afraid of them - not just creating endless notebooks on a more intellectual level, ones I never look back on and then end up wondering what to do with when they are finished (I have a very small house with far too much stuff in it already!).

I gave my four godchildren a maglite torch at their Christenings - partly because their parents are stage managers/lighting technicians, and partly because I thought it would be a good way to guide themselves through life. Thankfully I don't think any of them do this, but I used to sleep with a torch when I was a child, rather than a teddy bear...

Thank you again, Anita, and all the best on your journey in and out of all the shades of life.

anita Tue, May 16th 2017 @ 9:10pm

Thank you for your thoughtful and open hearted reply xx yes, it's the polarisation that is important to avoid I think. Balance and gentle kindness are powerful xx

Tutti Frutti Tue, May 16th 2017 @ 10:22pm

Thanks for your tip about the exams. I will try it sometime. When I googled it I also found a prayer by Saint Ignatius for anxiety and depression (on a Jesuit site) which I liked and have copied into my "fly away poisoned parrot" note book. Love TF x

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