The case AGAINST gratitude

by Danielle MacKinnon

The other day I was working with a client who said, “I know I have no right to be unhappy. I have a good job. I have a nice place to live. I have this wonderful dog – and yet I’m still unhappy. I realize I should be happy for all of this. I realize I should be grateful! But I can’t be…”

Most likely you’ve heard that to create what you want in your life, you have to feel grateful for what you already have. 

But what happens when even just TRYING to feel grateful doesn’t work? What happens when you can’t feel grateful for your job or your spouse or your… whatever it is?

Well, many people (most of us in fact!) start to beat themselves up. Just like my client was. She continually invalidated her feelings because she knew there were other people who were in worse situations. 

I’ve even seen this in people with their animal’s behavior problems. “He barks all the time and I hate it, but I’m just trying to be grateful to have him in my life…”

It’s REALLY hard to do that. It’s really hard to tell yourself you SHOULD be grateful, when it’s not what you’re actually feeling. 

So, what to do when you’re unhappy about something – but you can’t get yourself to that place of gratitude?

Go for mini-moments. And not mini-moments of gratitude (that would still be too hard) but mini-moments of happiness. 

What counts as a mini-moment? Spending 30-seconds:

-Eating the best piece of chocolate ever

-Watching kitten yawning videos on Youtube

-Turning your face up to the sun to notice the warmth on your cheeks

I think you get the picture, here right? All of these mini-moments shift your thoughts from what you don’t have or from how you’re supposed to be feeling different (ie grateful) to the very present NOW moment. In a positive way. 

Eventually, with enough mini-moments under your belt, the other moments in your life will begin to shift to match them. 

Without you having to MAKE change happen. Without having to find gratitude where you can’t. Without you having to do anything other than enjoy 30 seconds of your life.

Love and Light,

PS: There’s a cool new way to work with your emotions – and it’s working with your pet. Have you read Animal Lessons yet?

4 replies
  1. Sherry Nickell
    Sherry Nickell says:

    Taking my first cup of coffee in the early morning and connecting with everything outside- hummingbirds, finches, squirrels, the trees makes me so grateful to be alive!

  2. Sheri
    Sheri says:

    I hope you enjoy this story about Veronica the goldfish:)

    Inspiration is everywhere. Today mine came from a goldfish named Veronica. I’ve been lucky to get to ‘know’ her via her human’s Facebook page. She has messages for all of us. What animals teach us continues to amaze me – when we pay attention!

    Veronica the goldfish has been rearranging the decorations in her tank. Not happy with where her human first places a plant and a shell, she actually moves them to different locations. Curious actions for a fish, no? However, this all makes perfect sense just a couple of days later when she welcomes a companion, Luke (a prize goldfish from a fair), to her happy tank-home.

    What can we learn from Veronica the goldfish?

    We can change our life. We have total control of our environment and actions and, yes, sometimes it is as easy as moving a plant to a different location. How symbolic!

    Veronica also reminds us that change invites change and that it is necessary and essential for growth.

    Most importantly, her behavior demonstrates how animals function on instinct (instinct =energy!) and the ‘why’s’ don’t matter. They just ‘know’ how it must be and they make room for it or what is to come. They don’t need to defend their actions or explain the pieces of the puzzle, but simply trust their intuitive, energetic selves.

    While Veronica entertained her friends and I on Facebook with her seemingly nonsensical plant repositioning, she actually was making room for change and growth and showing us all how to navigate life! So humans take note! We all have the ability to function on this energetic level (our instincts). We must re-learn to trust our internal guidance systems we know as our intuition, gut and heart and watch the universe deliver the magic!

  3. Tibby
    Tibby says:

    Sometimes I just tell myself how blessed, wonderful, I am..usually emotions that I have been stuffing comes up and I start to cry and release. It releases the tension and the pressure. Or I listen to music, also sit out in the sun, if I am close to the beach go there. Play a video game. Take ten minute to just day dream about the type of life I would like. Watch a great movie that uplifts me funny or romantic. I have a playlist of funny videos on YouTube that I look at. It helps me break up the seriousness of life. I realize it’s not that serious. I have given up on the should’s, just do something fun. Someone just reminded me life is a marathon and to enjoy the process. Always reminded somewhere, somehow to love where you are. It’s so true it’s been a great place to start for me.

    • Bonnie Grant
      Bonnie Grant says:

      I just had a small stroke, so I’m happy just to be home with my pets and sleep in my own bed. I’m taking as many mini moments of happiness that I can get doing many of the things that you are doing one day at a time!!


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