If we are going to be appreciative of anything it could be for small things, such as our favorite meal or spending time with our friends. Yet, these are the same things that slowly begin to feel more obligatory than entertaining.
We might feel forced to “enjoy” the things that usually make us feel good in hopes of extracting some temporary relief. But as of late, there are instances when our cushions fail to cocoon us, feeling too drained or indifferent to enjoy them.
The reintegration into society after the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic gave a rush of “thankfulness” when we resumed lively, engaging activities that come with being out and about.
But as each year passes and the effects of staying inside wear off, we find ourselves shouldering even more of the world’s troubles after being absent or seemingly “cut-off.” Bearing the weight of our difficulties at home is vastly different than walking around and having them hover over your shoulder: it is a struggle in itself to complete the day normally. And the evidence eventually (and unwelcomingly) shows itself, from under-eye circles citing sleepless nights to the lack of response in our group chats and discussion posts.
School stress, world events, national occurrences, familial routines, friendship building. All these external things demand our focus, and we must tirelessly prune our attention to give consideration and respond appropriately.
Then, there is self-maintenance: how we process all these exterior things. Our feelings, our thoughts…who is nursing our internal concerns and struggles? When do we tend to the interior of everything, if at all?
This begs the question of “what is left to be grateful for”?
Simply being alive is not really an answer young people find comfort or appreciate all that much (at least, not while we are in the throes of it). Existence in itself is not something we can necessarily feel grateful for: we just accept it as our current state of being.
We could turn to another question and ask something that carries more promise to an answer, such as “how do we feel grateful without being shallow, spoiled or apathetic”?
As with anything intrapersonal, there is not a quick, easy answer because we are not clear-cut beings to begin with. However, we will go out on a limb and say that even supposed negative or superficial reasons for appreciation are sensible. The underlying significance with that statement is how there is honesty behind those answers, and that is the basis for finding some semblance of order.
Our ambiguity confounds and aggravates. Truthfully speaking, it is the cause of most of our problems. What we would suggest is that we begin to explore “gratefulness” as the act of acknowledgment. That is to say, what we feel is natural and we cannot punish ourselves for feeling or behaving otherwise.
Undoubtedly, we should strive for better, despite perfection not being attainable. The goal is not to be perfect but for something better. Better communication, better processing of feelings and so on. It is not a linear process, and it will not ever feel like it is progressing in observable and monumental strides. But the attempt to do so is worthwhile itself because it achieves something just the same.
To sum it up, let us not exhaust ourselves trying to find “acceptable” reasons to be grateful for the sake of humbling ourselves. Wherever and whoever you’re spending the holiday with, if even for a brief moment we are able to find some internal resolve, let us understand that it is more than enough and we have ourselves to ultimately thank for that.