practicing gratitude

Gratitude Forcing Folks, What’s Your Deal?

Be grateful things aren’t worse.

If I had a penny for every time someone said that.  It seems reasonable enough to express gratitude when you’re truly grateful for something. We all do that.

But then you come across #forevergrateful people. Yeah, those annoying people.  

Gratitude-pushers tend to drive me up the wall. Stick around to find out why.


1. Can we stop insisting on constant gratitude?

Before I start ranting, here is a short backstory.

Quick question, where do you encounter the most annoying people ever? At the grocery store.

So, there I was, standing in a line at the grocery store. Very annoyed, tired, and sweaty.

There were three women in front of me in their thirties, possibly forties. From their obnoxious and loud laughter, you could figure out what they were doing. Commenting Instagram posts and talking trash. One of their friends was considering divorcing her emotionally abusive husband. And then this conversation happened:

Karen #1: At least she still has a husband.

Karen #2: Exactly. I told her she should be happy he doesn’t hit her. There are women in far worse situations.

Karen #3: She needs a positive attitude. I mean, my man is not perfect. Do you hear me complaining all the time? No. I know I’m blessed.

And guess what happened next. They decided they should go to her place to check up on her. Maybe even bring her some chocolate.

Uh, ma’am, excuse me?! ?

Mind you, I have no idea who these women are. I hope I never see them again.

So, do I brush aside their conversation and move on with my life? No. I think about it for days and then write about it.

And where do I even begin? With diminishing emotional abuse? Or with shaming your friend for walking away from an unhealthy marriage?

Let me tell you this, Karen(s). You’re a(ll) terrible friend(s). And here are some things I have to say about you.

“At least she still has a husband”

Perhaps the first woman in this little tale got divorced at some point. Perhaps she lost her husband. Or perhaps she’s single. It doesn’t matter. What matters is that life isn’t a competition on who is more miserable.

That woman’s pain is pain. Your pain is pain. It’s not a competition. How about you try some compassion? Some self-compassion too?

What do you write in your gratitude journal, Karen #1? That you have a friend whose life is falling apart so you can feel better about yourself?

“Other women have it worse”

Forced gratitude is a bad idea. You don’t wake up one day and say to yourself: “Yeah, I’m gonna be grateful from now on. No matter what.”

When your life sucks, it sucks. Sometimes you aren’t feeling particularly grateful. And that’s okay.

There are always going to be people less fortunate than you. But that’s out of your control. And you’re not insensitive if you choose to leave a situation that is bad for your physical or mental health.

So, let me ask you this, Karen #2. You say other women are getting physically abused. So, your friend should be lucky for only getting away with psychological mistreatment?

“She needs a positive attitude”

It’s no fun without some toxic positivity, right? Let’s throw that into the mix as well.

We all know that one person who never grumbles about anything. Not a single thing. It’s all cute pictures and #blessed hashtags.

Yes, we all love to surround ourselves with positive people. But we also like to be able to vent when we need to. People obsessed with chasing happiness become ignorant of how others feel.

If someone has serious family issues and is telling you about them, they don’t need your advice to think positive thoughts. They need you to acknowledge their struggle. They need to feel seen.

Plus, Karen #3, I may be mistaken, but those sarcastic remarks about your marriage aren’t that sarcastic after all. 


2. How To Do Healthy Gratitude

Practicing gratitude is a great thing when it comes to maintaining good mental health. Healthy gratitude, that is. Here are a few tips and tricks on how to do it.

Don’t fake it till you make it

Gratitude can’t be pushed. Especially when you’re going through a rough patch. If it doesn’t come naturally, don’t force it.

Disregarding negative emotions doesn’t make them disappear. They exist to show you what you need to do to become a better person towards yourself and others.

You don’t need to go around showing it off

Don’t trouble yourself if you can’t make a list of things you’re grateful for. It doesn’t mean you don’t appreciate people and stuff in your life.

Being grateful is an internal thing. You don’t need to express it openly for it to be valid.

Put self-gratitude first

Find things that bring you joy and make you feel good. Whatever feels right. There are no rules.

You can try the Five Minute Journal. List three things you feel thankful for at the end of every day. Write yourself notes starting with: I thank myself for ________.

And once you get comfortable with self-gratitude, showing others how much you appreciate them becomes a lot easier.


3. What would you put on your gratitude list?

Insisting on gratitude can make people feel worse if they’re already facing difficulties.

There is no such thing as a quick fix you can use to escape your problems. The best things, the things we value more than anything else, are often born out of pain. And we get to decide what makes it onto our gratitude list.

Right now, I’m grateful for being able to binge Hannibal for the millionth time. What are you grateful for?


Cover image: by cromaconceptovisual from Pixabay