With Thanksgiving this week, we tend to focus on gratitude, taking the time to appreciate our good fortune and express our thanks to family, friends, colleagues and, sometimes, a higher power.
This is the time of year for commercials that make us cry and Hallmark movies that make us swoon. We will read inspirational quotes plastered on our Facebook feeds, and share heartfelt videos reminding us of our many blessings. These lovely reminders will resonate with many of us. They will be enough to put a smile on our faces and joy in our hearts.
For some of you, they may not.
Some of you may not be feeling all that “grateful.”
You may have lost a job.
Your relationship may have ended.
Your child may be suffering at school.
Your spouse might be ill.
Your pet may have died.
You may just be having a bad year.
Maybe there is no reason.
Whatever the reason — or lack thereof — it is OK to not feel thankful. When you sit around the dinner table Thursday, and people share what they are grateful for, it is OK to not answer, or to just excuse yourself during that part. You aren’t a bad person if you can’t find something. You are a human who is entitled to feel angry, sad, lonely or confused.
You don’t owe anyone a smile or pleasantries. You don’t need to “fake it.” You can just be.
No, this won’t be post telling you how to find gratitude in your life. How to seek out the blessings of everyday moments. There are lots of books, articles and podcasts to help you with that.
But, since you are here, and you read this far, maybe I can offer a bit of unsolicited, very unqualified advice:
Take a very long, deep breath in through your nose.
Hold it for a moment.
Now, let it go.
If nothing else, be grateful for that breath you just took. That breath, which powers you through each moment of your day. That breath, which enables you to be there for those who need you. That breath which reminds you that if nothing else you are alive, you are here and you are worthy.
You are worthy of love.
You are worthy of joy.
You are worthy of success.
You are worthy.
I am aware a simple breathing exercise isn’t enough, sometimes, it takes much more to get through the day. For you, it may mean seeking professional help, taking medication, or exploring alternative therapy. Please do what is best for you.
But, a good, deep breath is a place to start.
And, when the time is right, you will feel thankful.