Thankfulness and gratitude are important. I think we can all agree on that, but sometimes they are really hard. A lot of times the Universe or if we’re lucky, people can step into our lives and hand us something that we need, but that we definitely don’t want in that moment. Let me tell you about a moment in my life to explain.
I am very grateful to have a partner who is outright honest with me and very direct in his approach. This cuts out a lot of unnecessary drama and when it is all said and done, I do appreciate that he calls me on my shit and hands things to me like it is. But in the moment… that is not my first reaction. When things come out of his mouth like, “You’ve been depressingly negative lately” when I am complaining about friends not wanting to hang out with me or “You know, this has nothing to do with you” when I am taking things way too personally, it is not my first to be grateful for this honesty.
No, first I am going to be upset and maybe I’ll be a little angry. This is bound to happen, and it is okay when it does. A lot of times, the things that we don’t to hear are what we need to hear. For that, we should be thankful. But its fucking hard.
So how can you be thankful for something that you stubbornly don’t want to admit is good for you?
Well, enter my favorite two words; sarcasm and attitude. I have found that approaching these situations with an open heart and allowing myself to react emotionally toward them has helped me foster a greater sense of gratitude. Sound impossible? Let’s break it down.
The Practice of Gratitude with Attitude
Gratitude with Attitude is the practice of expressing thankfulness for the things we don’t want (but we know we need) without pretending that our stubborn selves are actually welling up with gratitude. This is a no-frills, entirely raw expression of emotion that as the emotional response dies down can be broken into actual gratitude.
This January, I totaled my car. I hit a patch of ice and spun and eventually went off the road, jumping a log laying on the shoulder and landing in an open parking lot. I was fine, but I knew when I walked away from my car that it was not. Yes, I was grateful that I wasn’t hurt, because I certainly could have been. But I’m human, and therefore that was not my first thought.
My first thought was something closer to, “Well, it fucking figures”. By the time I sat down to write my gratitudes of the day, I knew the insurance company had totaled it, I had gone to work for eight hours and it had set in the amount of work and money I would need to put into getting a new vehicle and frankly, I was having a really hard time finding something positive to say about the day. So I decided not to. Instead I made up some vulgar gratitudes for the day. The best three were;
- I am fucking grateful that as soon as I say I like my car, I go and crash it. Fucking figures.
- I am grateful that instead of being worried about me, everyone is saying that this is all my fault.
- I am beyond delighted that I need to spend the time looking for another car that I probably can’t afford right now.
If you’re a gratitude purist, I know, you’re cringing. But if you’re a normal human, this probably resonates with you. Some days are just crap, simple as that. I am a strong believer that life is a joke and a test of our sense of humor, and that the general population takes it too seriously, including myself sometimes. Which is why I found it interesting to read these gratitudes the next day.
Twelve hours later, I still wasn’t filled with gratitude over crashing my car, but I had calmed down a little and I could bring myself to transform those entries into more mainstream gratitudes.
I wrote the following three down on the next page of my journal;
- I’m grateful that I had a car that I liked, especially because I didn’t choose it or pay for it.
- I’m grateful that the people around me were worried about me and expressed it by urging me not to drive so fast so that it wouldn’t happen again.
- I am grateful that I have the option to take out a loan for a car that I can’t afford right now and that I have the privilege of having a choice to buy a car I want.
There. These probably feel better for the gratitude purists.
What I’m saying is that, gratitude doesn’t have to be stuck up and stuffy. Since you are the only one benefiting from writing them down or acknowledging them at all, they don’t have to be like the second set. In fact, I didn’t need to write the second set down at all. I got everything out that I needed to in the first one.
Regardless of how you write your gratitudes or express them, cuss words or not, if you are benefiting positively from them, you are doing it right. There are plenty of people out there in the world who are going to feed you bullshit, don’t feed it to yourself.