Overcoming Ingratitude

Katie and family

Ingratitude is a sticky, viral, dark poison. The thief of joy. It is a sickness that I had never been familiar with until I looked up one day, not feeling like myself at all, and fearfully wondered what on earth had happened.

Ingratitude tells you you deserve more, better, vaster, farther. It tells you it’s not fair that they have that but you only have this. It’s truly a sickening and ravenous flu, and the scary part is, once I recognized it, I kinda wanted to stay in it. I felt horrible in my heart; anxious, controlling, fearful, but also…kinda nice. Like how a pity party is nice for a minute. I had the actual opposing thoughts: “let’s list everything we’re grateful for! Count our blessings” followed by “no.”

Ingratitude steals the joy of your one beautiful joyful baby and replaces it with anger that you don’t have two. It robs the peace of home and instead inserts the critical eye of “but there’s not even a place for our damn books!!” It slowly, quietly, menacingly seeps into an abundant marriage and whispers “why is he even like that?”

Ingratitude is best friends with Control: being ungrateful allows for control. I am not thankful for our current drapes and frankly we need blue ones. So I’m going to order them now. I am in control. I am not thankful for my husband right now, so I’m going to bully him about his video games until he does what I want. Control. That’s why it can feel good, it can feel sticky, like you need to stay there.

It is Impartial and all encompassing. Ungratefulness is a heart posture not an emotion. Therefore It doesn’t discriminate between work or family or possessions the way emotions can. I can be angry at x but happy at y. This is not so with ingratitude. When your heart is in a posture of ungratefulness it touches everything. Relationships, work, possessions, meals, to do list, everything is subject to its glare.

Three tips on how to overcome ingratitude:

  1. Comparison isn’t a bad thing, when used appropriately — I found that in my day of ingratitude, I compared my whole life to those “above.” I made less money. I had less freedom. My job was less satisfying. My husband was less outdoorsy. My child was less healthy. My body was less cooperative. My vacation was less glamorous. My dinner was less tasty. And so on. These comparisons…to be honest, are crap. Because a truer broader scope would point to the reality which is….My life is complete and full of abundance. When I compare appropriately, to the world at large, my husband is healthy and kind. My daughter is learning and happy. I have the opportunity to work every day and bring home money to take care of my family. I could go on, but you get the picture. Comparing up will never lead to gratitude.
  2. The importance of remembrance — We could learn a lot from the biblical people of Israel. Remembering the miracle after miracle that has created this life I live will always keep me in a posture of gratitude. The man who should’ve never stuck around to marry me. The daughter who, clinically, I was never supposed to have. The business that, statistically, should not still be around. Our home that realistically, we could never afford. These are the miracles that makeup my reality, which, when remembered, lead to gratitude.
  3. Speak it out loud — To count your blessings, or express your thankfulness, or remember, or compare appropriately OUT LOUD, with a friend, makes it real. Brings you to reality. When these convos are just in my head, they’re simply not as grounding as saying them out loud.
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