When Thankfulness Doesn’t Help you Feel Better

I’m a big believer in thankfulness. It’s important and beneficial to count your blessings: a thankful attitude can help you develop emotional resilience and enjoy a more positive outlook on life.

But what about those times when you’re trying your best to have a thankful heart, yet you still feel awful? What do you do then?

From my experience, I can tell you what happens next: you feel guilty! You start to question yourself. Why am I still feeling awful? I have so much to be thankful for! Confusion enters stage right, frustration enters stage left, and you feel like the unsuspecting fool in a farce. (Picture pie in your face — or a plank or a rake!)

If your attempts at reaching up in thankfulness sometimes end in a baffling nose-dive, I have three things to tell you up front: (1) you are not going crazy, (2) you are not defective, and (3) you are not alone.

Let me tell you about a time when I tried really hard to be thankful yet still felt grim. It happened when we were away on holidays earlier this year — but I’ll fill you in on the background first. I hope my story will encourage you. It might even help you understand what’s going on in your own mind when a grateful heart isn’t the cure-all you were hoping it would be.

* Below I’ve divided the story into sections for you. If you’d prefer to read it all at once, in one longer post, you can do that here — it’s about a 10-minute read (just scroll past the intro!).

Would you like more support?

Over the next three weeks (Nov-Dec 2017) my friends and I in the 15:5 Tribe will be discussing the ideas of thankfulness and grief from my holiday story. You’re welcome to join us! Connect with other Christians who are striving to be thankful while also wrestling honestly and openly with their grief. More info about the 15:5 Tribe can be found here.

I’d like to join the 15:5 Tribe!