Compulsory Gratitude

I’m grateful. I swear I am grateful, but this pressure to suddenly demonstrate it here and on Facebook and Pinterest and Instagram and Twitter is making it feel less genuine for me.

Something about the compulsory nature of the gratitude is rubbing me the wrong way.  I am not the only one, thank Heavens, and here’s my favorite post on the gratitude from Carinn at Welcome to the Motherhood.

Man, I am grateful for her and her uncanny gift of keeping the shizz real. (See, that was genuine.)

And I will bow my head today to give thanks for a meal that is graciously served to me (even though I think turkey is generally a boring protein, and pumpkin pie is like 17th on my favorite dessert list, because HELLO? Where’s the chocolate in pumpkin pie?), and I will surrender to the theme of gratitude because my heart actually is full of it. Brimming.

My biggest problem is my healthy, vibrant children don’t sleep late enough for my taste.  And sometimes I feel fat and ugly.  And my therapist has confused vacation time with working time.  And sometimes I hate my hair. Oh– and I am not sure how to make a career as a writer, much less how to finish my novel.  Throw in a few days per month of existential malaise and a low-grade fear of people, and that’s the list of my problems.

I may be self-absorbed and immature, but I am not stupid.  I know that someone who has the above list as the sum of her life problems has an extraordinary life.

I should have gratitude coursing through my veins, and often I do.  But the pressure to package it as clever and pithy and bloggy just makes it feel like a mockery to me.  And it makes me feel like a failure because I have seen plenty of extraordinary writing about gratitude.  Also, railing against the gratitude “trend” is sort of boorish– after all, as far as trends go, it’s a pretty good one (unlike, say, skinny jeans or huffing glue).

So, I’ll share this with you: I am grateful for my everythings* and for the few boundaries I have between my private life and my public life, which is my way of saying that’s all I’m saying about this now, but check back later, because I may be more forthcoming.

*Not a typo. I meant to say “everythings.” Have you read Room by Emma Donoghue*? I was going for something like the language that her main character used.  Did it work?  Ok, well, I tried.

*Wanna amp up your gratitude? Read Donoghue’s Room and be grateful you were not born into the situation that she depicts there.

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33 thoughts on “Compulsory Gratitude

  1. Holla! I feel the same way. Exactly. I struggle with the corporateness of stuff sometimes because it does feel obligatory since everyone is doing it. I try to sort of do silliness mixed with thankfulness because that makes it a little better. Maybe? Thanks for the post!

  2. I wouldn’t know how to BEGIN being more grateful for my life than I already am. Hi. It’s kind of my ENTIRE BLOG already. And I’m Canadian, so Thanksgiving is soooooo last month up here.

    But I did read, and love, Room and I fully appreciate your everythings.

  3. Yeah, I am not a big fan of the compulsory Facebook gratitude. I am also not a fan of people telling me what I should be grateful for. I don’t want to rack my brain each day coming up with my next day’s posting of what I’m thankful for. I just want to enjoy what I have… and I guess that’s some kind of gratitude, right?

    Instead, I tend to find gratitude in small moments. Like when I’m putting the kids to bed and we have a few minutes of peace and quiet and happy togetherness.

  4. Thanks for the rant love – my family is nothing short of horrified. Secretly I am grateful for that. I will assert my voice if it kills me in the process. But thank you for the reminder that my problems are pretty simple and for calling up the abundance of gratitude I also have flowing through my veins. I am truly thankful for you.

  5. I just had an idea for a blog post for today, but it had little to do with Thanksgiving, or gratitude, or any of the other themes of today. And I had a moment where I thought that maybe I should push it to tomorrow so as to properly express those themes. But I had to remind myself that I DO feel immense, almost overwhelming gratitude, on this day and every day. And just because I don’t shout it from the rooftops, doesnt make it any less real.

  6. Yes, our Thanksgiving was Oct. 8th. That seems like eons ago. In fact, it was three teeth ago. I’m still in the midst of teething hell.

    You know, chocolate chip pumpkin cookies are great. There must be a way to get chocolate in pumpkin pie.

    Have a great meal in any case. Anytime someone else cooks it’s a great meal!

  7. Yes. This whole post.

    I’m in a different place for the first time in a long time, but this post? This is my status quo. I know I should, I know I’m lucky, but I feel like crap.

    Luckily, this year the kids are learning to get along, my novel is coming along, I might have found an ideal career, I was freshly pressed, and for the first time I feel the balance between need for control and self actualization is right over the fulcrum.

    Happy Thanksgiving. Really.

  8. I am grateful for your genuineness. I can totally relate to the feeling of – I should be grateful and happy because I really do have it so good, but most of the time I just feel like life is really hard. I mean, I AM grateful, but dammit! Life is so hard! So I’m glad you just keep it real. And I’m still looking forward to reading your book. You’ll get there.

  9. Well, this is uncanny. I just wrote a post where I admitted to being a Thanksgiving Scrooge.

    Compulsory gratitude feels just icky. It grates on me and makes me all stubborn and rebellious. I don’t want to feel things just because someone tells me I should. It’s why I hate heavy-handed movie soundtracks, too. Don’t tell me how to feel. (Not you — you’ve never done that.)

  10. I have a post about gratitude mostly written in my head, and I purposely *didn’t* post it today, because I didn’t want it to seem like I was writing it specifically because it’s Thanksgiving.

  11. Being thankful for me is more inner dialogue rather than Facebook status. Honestly, as someone who has struggled with inner peace and the like — there is nothing like reading about what life is like for children in so many parts of the world to give me perspective. I’m depressed today because of what? Being thankful for the little things helps me get over myself and move forward. For which I am very thankful. I’m tired of wasting time stuck in neutral. Which really is a conundrum because writing about being miserable about nothing comes naturally and can be very funny.

    • Totally agree. I’m reading a book about China in the 1979s and am grateful every second for my freedom and my country. I can’t believe what other cultures have endured.

  12. I loved Room. I recommended it to everyone I knew who loves to read. I wasn’t able to update Facebook or Twitter or even my blog with fake ass happiness. While yes, I am happy, I cannot (and will not) feel pressured to show it on this one day. I am thankful for just waking up this morning. I am thankful for my kids even when they are sassy near 12 yr olds who are, well, too damn sassy. Even when they are 9 yr olds who are clingy or 3 year olds who party all day and then don’t sleep all night. I am thankful for my husband even though lots of (LOTS OF) times I want to bludgeon him in his sleep, stash his body in the crawl space. I am still mostly glad to have him but on this one particular day to HAVE TO say so? Nope. And now I wanna go reread Room.

  13. Agreed. The only thing about thankfulness I could get myself to post was a picture of my gratitude board, which is an ongoing thing, not a once a year thing. It isn’t that I begrudge people focusing on gratitude in November, it’s that I feel like I’m jumping on a bandwagon, and I don’t want it to come from that place. Some people commented that they couldn’t actually read my gratitude board and I was like, ‘yeah, I mean to do that.’

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