Throughout my mental health journey, I’ve reflected a lot about gratitude and and what it means to be thankful. From reflections on gratitude to what I’ve learned about thankfulness, there is a wealth of knowledge to be gained surrounding these feelings, and it can change all the time. Most of the time, I reflect on the importance of being grateful and of being thankful. There is so much value these things bring to our lives. In the busy day-to-day of things, it’s easy to forget. But this Thanksgiving, I really want to reflect on what I’m grateful for. I want to think about what I’m thankful for, and I want to share that with you all today.
For a long time, I thought of gratitude as something to do. It was an action. I needed to feel gratitude, I needed to express gratitude, I needed to be active with my gratitude. And while that worked out well on occasion, it felt exhausting. I didn’t have the right attitude about what I was doing and why I was doing it, and I felt that.
For me to truly feel these feelings and emotions, thankfulness isn’t something to do – it’s something to be. Be present in your thankfulness; be present in your gratitude. Being thankful just because you think you should will get you nowhere. Thankfulness requires reflection. Reflection on what you have, reflection on how you got there and reflection on how that’s impacted you as a person.
But there’s something else that has helped on my road to being more thankful: acceptance. I wasn’t accepting certain aspects of my life or of myself, and it’s hard to be thankful when you’re rejecting something about yourself. Am I thankful for my depression? Maybe not for the difficult parts, but it’s taught me so much about myself. Am I grateful for my anxiety? Not for the way it affects me, but it does give me a perspective that I believe has helped me live a good life.
This Thanksgiving, I can’t think about anything else except to be grateful and thankful. I am so very grateful for loving family and friends. I am grateful for community, and thankful for love. I am grateful that I am me, and thankful that I am encouraged to be myself, despite the challenges that mental illness can bring. But most of all, I am grateful and thankful that I am here. And every year, despite any changes, I will always be thankful for that. Happy Thanksgiving.