4 Ways To Inspire Gratitude When The Last Thing You Feel Is Thankful

Woman looking at window


Alex Wilson
Alex Wilson
May 24, 2024 at 10:24PM UTC
Imagine: You’re sitting around the Thanksgiving table, and each person is going around sharing what they’re thankful for. It’s finally your turn, and after thinking about it, you say…
You've racked your brain about what you’re grateful for this year, and you’ve got nothing. Nada. Zilch. Zero. Instead, all you can think about are the promotions you didn’t get, the person who cut you off in traffic yesterday, and the goals you were trying to accomplish but wound up procrastinating on. Yes, it sounds bad, but guess what? You don’t have to feel bad about feeling bad.

Everyone has their ups and downs, and if you’re feeling especially down when Thanksgiving rolls around, you shouldn’t feel guilty. Don’t hold back your negative feelings. (In the end, doesn’t that hurt you the most?) Instead, take the time to think through why you’re feeling the way you’re feeling.
Once you’ve processed your feelings, you’ll have a better understanding of what to do to make yourself feel better. In order to save you a few steps in the process, here’s a list of things you can do to inspire gratitude this season. Again — you shouldn’t feel bad about feeling bad. But if you’re looking to freshen your perspective, these will help!

1. Find a way to laugh.

The best way to kick your problems to the curb is to laugh them off. Are you still stewing over the time your jerk of a coworker stole your spotlight in your department presentation? Talk about it with a friend and find something from the moment to laugh about. Even if it was just the tie your coworker was wearing — finding something to smile about amidst the drama will cheer you up.
You can also watch old episodes of your favorite sitcom or read a section of your favorite book. The best forms of self-care are focused on comfort, so do something that is emotionally comforting to you.

2. Pay it forward.

While you can undergo big actions to pay it forward, focus on smaller ones for now. Making somebody’s day easier by carrying their groceries or providing directions can have a positive impact on your mood. You might not feel grateful for what’s in your life right now, but somebody will feel grateful for you; and what better way is there to get those warm fuzzies during the holidays?
Here’s an easy way to pay it forward the next time you leave the office for your afternoon coffee break. Instead of bringing five dollars for your latte, bring $20. Pay for your coffee, leave a tip and then ask the barista to use the remainder for the next few customers’ orders. A free coffee is a simple pleasure for those in high-pressure work environments, so find some joy in the way you’re making somebody’s day a little better.

3. Unplug your devices.

Spoiler alert: If you disconnect from all of your electronic devices, the world isn’t going to end. If anything, it can help clear your mind and alleviate the pressure you’re feeling to be as happy as everyone else on your social media feed appears to be. Removing distractions of what other people are doing will help you appreciate what’s right in front of you. When you have a clearer perspective, you may find that there’s something to be grateful for that you didn’t see earlier.

4. Say “thank you.”

Even if you’re not feeling grateful in the moment, take the time to thank somebody who has done something nice for you. Not just to the stranger who held the door for you, but to somebody who helps you on a regular basis that you may forget to thank. A simple “thank you” to the assistant who schedules your meetings or to the colleague who takes notes for you when you forget will make them feel appreciated. It will remind you that even when times are tough, there’s always something to be thankful for.

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