The Atlas

Being Thankful When You Don't Feel Thankful

Admittedly, I have gone painfully long without writing. I miss it. And, like most things that you stop doing, the longer you think about getting back to it, the harder it feels to do... so here goes.

Your email boxes are undoubtedly full of emails this week reminding us of all the things we have to be thankful for. And reminding us that the act of being thankful is sometimes important to help us feel grounded enough to in our own fortunes to be reminded of that one, truly horrible thought: it could always be worse.

I have to admit, I haven't been feeling very grateful these days. Pissy, resentful, angry, scared and -- heads and shoulders above them all -- exhausted. That's how I've been feeling. And those emotions take a lot of oxygen out of any room.

About three months ago, I returned to my home town after more than 20 years away. Despite having sworn that I would never do this, circumstances aligned in a way that made the choice pretty straight-forward: the three members of my family to whom I am the closest are all suffering major, degenerative and likely deadly heath issues, and this is the only place I can be to help be of some use to all three of them.

I can't lie. This means some days truly and completely suck. And one of the reasons that I haven't been writing is because I have been struggling to keep my head above water. Factor in a work schedule that is four time zones away, and by the time I get half way through any given week, it's all I can do to push through to a Friday finish line before collapsing.

And then while reading the latest article in the wonderful Arthur Brooks column, How to Build a Life, he talked about precisely this and reminded me that I already knew what I needed to do.

  • We don't wait until our teeth are clean to start brushing.
  • We don't wait until you feel healthy to start exercising.
  • We don't wait until our dog is perfectly well-behaved before we take him into a class with other dogs.
  • We don't wait until we know how to cook to start cooking.

And, naturally, we can't wait until we have something to feel grateful for to actually be grateful.

Thankfulness is a choice. A mindset. And an exercise just as important to our minds as brushing our teeth is to our oral health, or as Pilates or yoga is to our strength and balance.

So, my homework for myself is simple: take the dogs for a run, enjoy some amazing Wine Country weather, enjoy the Zen of cooking something fun and amazing, and dig out my journal and write down all of the things that I genuinely am thankful for, even though they have felt overshadowed lately by things I have almost no control over.

The very top of that list? How much better I feel when I write.

Funny the way that works, huh?

I wish you and yours a delightful, safe and healthy Thanksgiving.

Alora's Signature