Holidays: Genuine Gratitude is a Choice of the Mind and Heart

Jeff Herring

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Q. With the holiday season coining around again, I'm dreading hearing about how we should all be grateful, count our blessings, blah, blah, blah. Well, this year I don't feel grateful or thankful at all. I lost my job because of cutbacks, and it has been a real struggle living on just my wife's paycheck with three kids. I really think this will be the worst holiday season ever. I don't even know why I'm writing to you. I feel like crap and the holidays aren't even here yet. What do I have to be grateful for?

A. How about that you still have skills and abilities that will eventually land you a job? Or that you have the blessings of a wife and children? Or that you know how to use a computer and the Internet to send me an e-mail?

I don't mean to be rough on you during a difficult time; I just want to change your perspective. Gratitude is not about being grateful when things are going well.

That's just being pleased with current events.

Genuine gratitude is a choice of the mind and heart

When bad things happen — and they happen to all of us in life — we choose to allow them to make us bitter or make us better.

Being ungrateful, or staying stuck in the anger of not getting what you believe you deserve, shuts you off from opportunities and eventually leads to bitterness.

In your situation, if you narrow it down to the issue of a job, staying angry and bitter could cause you to be out of work longer. It will negatively affect your attitude and your ability to choose your next best position.

That's not to say that you are not going through a hard time. You are.

But you are asking all the wrong questions, questions that lead only to anger and bitterness.

Asking better questions

A better question to ask would be: Even though I do not feel grateful right now, what could I be grateful about if I had to be? Then make a list, and keep it handy.

Better questions include: In how many ways can I make this situation work for me? What does this situation allow me to do that I could not do before? What does this situation force me to do that I might not have done before?

I'd suggest that you keep these questions handy and answer them on a daily basis.

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