When your gratefulness is gone

When your gratefulness is gone

“Grief and gratitude are kindred souls, each pointing to the beauty of what is transient and given to us by grace.”

Patricia Campbell Carlson

In this season of giving thanks and joy and goodwill and merriment and holiday cheer, sometimes it’s too much. Sometimes that’s just not the space you are in right now. That’s OK.

Many of us have times in our lives when we may not feel grateful for much of anything. That’s OK. You may be grieving or dealing with health, personal, work or financial issues. Gratitude in times of struggle looks different. Be gentle with yourself. No one gets to grade you on your gratitude.

In 2020 researchers at the Ohio State University analyzed results from 27 separate studies that examined the effectiveness of gratitude interventions on reducing symptoms of anxiety and depression. The results showed such interventions had limited benefits at best. Believe it or not, gratitude and negative emotions can exist side by side.

When it feels like you have nothing to be grateful for, use your senses and look at the little things. Could you be grateful for the brisk autumn breeze and the sound of leaves rustling? The yummy aroma from your morning coffee or tea and the way the mug warms your hands? What about the feeling of a hug from a loved one (human or animal)? Maybe something as simple as the sunrise?

Being grateful also doesn’t have to be all about the present day. When we’re having trouble feeling grateful right now, recalling times we are grateful for can remind us there have been good times — and may be again.

“Does gratitude spare us from sorrow, sadness, grief and pain? No, but it does soothe our feelings. It provides us with a greater perspective on the very purpose and joy of life.”

—Russell M. Nelson

Sometimes we may need something to trigger gratitude. Asking yourself some simple questions is an easy way to do this. Try asking one of these questions:

—What made me smile recently?

—What abilities do I have but take for granted?

—Is there an item I use every day that I am thankful for having?

—Has someone done something for me recently that made my life easier/better?

—What opportunities do I currently have that I am grateful for?

—What did I see today or over the last month that was beautiful?

In the midst of this celebration season, consider this a reminder that you can choose to acknowledge (or not) each holiday in a way that suits you. In hard times the simple things like breathing in and breathing out can be counted as blessings.

Kate Shumaker is an OSU Extension family and consumer sciences educator and may be called at 330-674-3015. Like and follow OSU Extension Holmes on Facebook @OSUEXTHolmes or visit https://holmes.osu.edu.

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