Finding Gratitude in 2020  

So here we are in the midst of another holiday season, only this one is coming on the heels of 2020. A couple of years ago, I led a 7-day challenge to bring ourselves more comfort and joy in the holiday season. Although I think we need those things now more than ever, I’m finding myself thinking about gratitude instead.

Gratitude can be a tricky business – especially right now. Many of us are facing unprecedented challenges and I don’t know about you, but I’m sick to death of living through “a historical event.”

I count myself as profoundly lucky in the grand scheme of 2020. I am constantly struck by how fortunate I am. Adapting my life to the demands of this year has been far easier for me than for many people – it’s even been far easier than it would have been for me a couple of years ago. I have a job that I don’t have to risk my life for and I can work from home. I don’t have young kids in school. I have health insurance.

That said, I’m still living through a global pandemic just like everyone else. I’m worried about family and friends getting sick or losing their jobs. I’m still experiencing the – ahem – challenges to our democracy that keep me up at night.

When I think about gratitude, it often comes down to this:

  1. Sometimes I feel guilty for having all that I have when so many people are struggling.
  2. Sometimes thinking that I should feel grateful gets in the way of actually feeling grateful.

It’s so easy to look at our own situation and think: “Here are all the things that I should feel grateful for. And as soon as we start shoulding all over ourselves, it gets harder to actually feel the gratitude – which is what energizes us and helps us move forward. One of the things that helps me get out of the ‘shoulds’ and into feeling truly grateful is to ask myself some questions and journal about what comes up.

Here are some of the ones that have worked for me:

– What are you most grateful to yourself for this year?
– What was something above and beyond that someone did for you?
– What did you do for someone else that brought you joy?
– What did you learn this year?
– What’s the most fun thing you’ve done lately?
– What did you accomplish that surprised you, even if it’s really tiny?
– What are you taking comfort in right now?

You can use these questions as a jumping off point to reflect on this year – what you’re grateful for, what you’ve learned and what you may want to let go of. I have a feeling we’ll all be grateful to usher in a new year soon!

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