Using gratitude to improve our mental health

The #givethanks movement has truly been an incredible experience for me.

But it didn’t have to be.

I started out looking around being slightly judgmental of the sudden wave of posts.

There’s a weird kind of pride in looking at all these kind posts and still feeling judgmental and pessimistic about your own life.

I get it.

I spent the first day like this. But then I thought: why?

Does gratitude have to be fluffy and superficial? Or can it really heal me as the Prophet promised?

Spoiler alert: It totally can.

The poison of Comparison

Funnily enough, this is not the first time I have talked about the poison of comparing ourselves to other people.

But this time, it’s more comparing what other people have with what we don’t have.

Which is just as dangerous. And often results in pride, rather than shame like the previous.

“Of course so-and-so is posting about her perfect house and her perfect family, she just wants to show off again.”

“Look at all these posts about people in relationships, like hi, we know you are dating someone. Good for you.”

If you have pessimistic thoughts like these run through your head- don’t worry- you aren’t alone.

Often we take this stance when we feel hurt that other people have what we would like to have.

But remember, circumstances never create happiness.

And just the same, circumstances never create gratitude.

It is our thoughts.

If we waste our brain space being frustrated with others for having what we want, we will never see what we do have.

If you have used this opportunity to give thanks as a breeding ground for bitterness and pride, you have missed the point of the Prophet’s challenge.

Allowing Emotion

Now, that is not to say we won’t feel occasional sadness.

If seeing all the posts of couples makes you sad you don’t have someone, totally allow for that. Don’t resist it.

But don’t stay there for too long.

When the sadness has passed, ask yourself:

What do I have?

What is amazing about my life?

Don’t assume there is nothing, I promise there is something.

Maybe you have a soft sweater that always makes you feel comforted.

Perhaps your older sister has a way of making you feel loved and appreciated.

Maybe you are simply grateful for a functioning body.

For a roof over your head.

As we focus on our haves rather than our have-nots, we feel grateful.

It doesn’t matter what the thing is.

When we think grateful thoughts about it, we get to experience the feeling of gratitude.

And boy oh boy, it feels amazing.

Not forcing Gratitude

If there’s things you don’t feel grateful for, don’t force yourself too.

Give yourself some compassion and find things you really are grateful for.

Take it one step at a time.

If it hurts to say you are grateful for it, then don’t pretend you are.

It won’t work.

What I’m saying, is push yourself a little to figure out if you could be grateful for certain aspects of your life.

And see if it grows from there.

Improving your Mental Health

To sum up, these kind of movements can either bring awareness and joy to our lives, or comparison and hatred. It is our choice.

We can improve how we think about ourselves and our lives.

It is a beautiful thing. It really is.

I feel happier and lighter, just as the Prophet anticipated.

But it could have gone a different way, if I hadn’t shifted my mindset.

I encourage you to shift yours.

Gratitude feels way better than pride.

It feels better than being better than somebody else.

It feels better than being right.

I love you friends, happy thanksgiving. Stay calm.

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