Today is Thanksgiving in the United States. Across the country, people will sit down with their families and friends to eat a meal and most likely spend some time expressing what they are grateful for.
It’s a beautiful practice.
But what if you’re just not feeling it?
Many personal development “gurus” will tell you to find something — there’s a common belief that gratitude is like a “miracle cure” for what ails you.
There’s no question that each of us can find many things to be grateful for. From the very fact that you’re breathing and reading this, to the facility of your senses, to your health, to all the miracles we have around us.
We drive on roads we didn’t pave, we eat food we didn’t cultivate ourselves, we wear clothes that we didn’t sew. Most people live in houses they didn’t have to build with their own labor. We have computers in our pockets. And on and on.
Surely you could always find something.
And if you can’t, or you don’t want to…. that’s ok too.
I realize this sounds like heresy in the personal growth space, especially on Thanksgiving, but it needs to be said:
Gratitude is not a magic pill that suddenly makes all of your problems disappear. It’s not the secret to happiness.
A 2020 meta review of 27 studies on gratitude found that gratitude interventions had limited value when it came to treating issues like depression and anxiety.
In fact, forcing gratitude when you don’t truly feel it can lead to guilt and shame. You might feel like you’re doing “something wrong.”
You’re just human. It’s ok to not feel gratitude all the time.
Even on Thanksgiving day.