An article written by the upcoming author, yoga teacher and wonderful coach Nanna Hofman
“Just be more grateful”
“You have so much”
“Love and light”
All phrases that are often used in the wellness community - especially online where it seems easy to “just be more grateful”. Gratitude is suggested to have a positive impact on our mental health and even though it cannot heal us from all the hurt and pain life brings us, it might be worth it to make it a part of our everyday-life anyways.
Gratitude has however shown to be more complicated than we think. Especially over the last years where it’s become directly linked to toxic positivity and spiritual bypassing, which leads to the conversation having more layers than first anticipated. “Just be more positive” cannot solve every distress from our lives for us. So what can it actually do?
|Explanation of Words|
Toxic positivity: is the belief that no matter how difficult a situation is, people should maintain a positive mindset. While there are benefits to being an optimist and engaging in positive thinking, toxic positivity instead rejects difficult emotions in favor of a cheerful, often falsely positive, facade.
Spiritual bypassing: is a tendency to use spiritual ideas and practices to sidestep or avoid facing unresolved emotional issues, psychological wounds, and unfinished developmental tasks. For instance by suggesting that one can always manifest oneself out of hurt and pain.
Like we so often see, everything in moderation is probably the best way to go around it. The practice of gratitude doesn't necessarily have to make us look away from feeling what we’re feeling if we’re in the Sad. It can also just be a small moment where the weight of the world feels a little lighter on our shoulders, because we thank our bodies for still breathing. Or driving home from work later than you wanted to but realizing that the sky is pink in that very special way.
As humans living in this world, we most likely know by now that pain, suffering and occasionally long days are a part of the deal. Annoying and overwhelming and UGH. But that’s just how it is. No meditation, Yoga, or journaling can make that go away. However, if we learn to appreciate all the beautiful things that also come our way, it might be possible to spin gold out of that hard life anyways.
It’s not about making the pain go away. It’s about making the pain worth it.
That moment, where your shoulders relax, your body gets to breathe and you realize that you are not just alive - but you are LIVING - yes, that moment. This experience is thanks to gratitude. Thanks to acknowledging what’s incredible in life. Next to all the Suck, pandemic-vibes and confusion. Because it can all be there.
Gratitude is a way of letting the Beautiful and True take up just as much, if not more, space than the Sad and the Suck. Now. I am aware that we can’t bathe next to unicorns and rainbows all day every day. But I do believe that all of us deserve just a moment a day where we choose our peace over our productivity. One moment a day where the world gets to be a kinder and more curious place.
We love the “110%”-way but if we’re being honest, no one is the same every day. Our bodies are not. Our energies are not. We cannot expect to be able to do everything everyday. Therefore, we must do what we can - not what we cannot. On the days where it’s possible for you to enjoy more - do it - and on the days where it’s not - ask for help and go slow. We still love you.
You are not a bad human being for finding it hard to step out of the hurt - even for just two seconds. Stepping out of the hurt and into gratitude takes practice, timing and sometimes - even a little bit of privilege. All we can do is try to balance our lives along the way, so the pain might not have to evolve into suffering every time. Or every year. Or after every broken heart.
It’s like this:
Your favorite warm drink tastes great even on the saddest of days.
Your body is breathing beautifully from anywhere - even if ‘anywhere’ is your bed on the sixth(-teenth) day in a row.
A hug and a good ol’ cry feels healing whether it’s initiated by joy or hurt.
We’ve been taught by society that it’s all or nothing. That we need to pay attention to all the big-looking things in life. So of course it feels bypassing when we’re being told to appreciate our entire lives if we’re in a toxic relationship, are suffering from depression, and hate our job.
So here comes the but: The big things are not what life is all about. You don’t need to love the sh*t out of everyone or everything in order to be welcome on our planet.
Dearest you. The small things are the big things.
You live next to them every single day. Every single moment. Tiny magic is also magic. We just need to see it. Not because it will make the hurt go away - it will just make the hurt more bearable. And who knows? We might even get a laugh, a cuddle, or a dance along the way. And if that isn’t what life is all about, then I don’t know what is.