Thankful Tuesday Prompt: Oct 5th

Posted on Tuesday, October 5th, 2021

Written by Isidora Nezic, Wellness@Work Advisor

Definition of gratitude. White text on sky blue background.

What is Gratitude?

To many of us gratitude can be saying “thank you” to someone to show appreciation for a gift we are given or when we have been helped. Gratitude is not just an action; it is also an emotion and when gratitude becomes intentional and habitual it can result in longer lasting positivity.

Gratitude can also look like:

  • Awe
  • Wonder
  • Thankfulness
  • Counting blessings
  • Feeling fortunate
  • Relishing positive moments
  • Recounting life’s joys
  • Savoring
  • Not taking things for granted
  • Appreciation

Gratitude and Mindfulness

Gratitude is rooted in mindfulness. Just as mindfulness begins with observing our thoughts and what is around us, building our capacity for gratitude also begins with observing. And like mindfulness, gratitude takes practice.  When we start with an openness to notice what is around us and what we are grateful for, we might see gratitude in parts of our lives that we did not have a chance to acknowledge before.

Also, when we engage in practices such as gratitude and mindfulness, it is important to consider why we are dipping our toes into this new life practice. We should not solely engage in them for the stated benefits of reduces stress or help in accepting change. We should make a commitment to ourselves that we are engaging in the practice to simply enjoy the process. Enjoy the present moment of expressing gratitude and notice how that makes you feel. Gratitude and mindfulness are not a means to an end, but a lifelong commitment to our wellness.

Gratitude vs. Toxic Positivity

When we engage in a practice of gratitude it is important to be weary of toxic positivity. Toxic positivity can be seen as “an obsession with positive thinking. It is the belief that people should put a positive spin on all experiences, even those that are profoundly tragic.” And you might wonder how are the two different?

Silvi Saxena describes the relationship with gratitude and toxic positivity very well. She states, “Gratitude and toxic positivity can look similar but the difference is the intention. When you are grateful, you truly appreciate things and recognize the depth of your own emotions, and are choosing to believe that your cup is still half-full. When you are in a state of toxic positivity, you are likely trying to push down any negative feelings to feel and appear as though you are choosing to be positive. In reality, you are denying yourself the experience of feeling and processing these emotions and coming out the other side. Gratitude is all about accepting reality and making the best of it. Toxic positivity is living in a bubble, a bubble that is inevitably going to burst.”

There is duality in many parts of our lives. We can acknowledge grief, pain and sadness and still find appreciation for parts of our lives. A lack of acknowledgement or remembering the “bad” invalidates our struggle, while true gratitude does not negate our emotions.  

Thankful Tuesday Prompt

Start off slowly. Provide a realistic gratitude practice for yourself and find what works for you. Prompts to consider are:

  • What are some things you are grateful for? (No thing is too big or too small)
  • What is something you experienced or accomplished this year that you are grateful for?
  • What is an upcoming opportunity that you are grateful for?
  • Who in your life are you grateful for right now? (Don’t forget about yourself!)

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