When you are:

  • At the end of your rope
  • Snap at those you love
  • Feel your freedoms are being stripped away
  • And slip into borderline clinical depression

What’s left?

You can’t actually “give up.” What would that look like? There’s no reset button, there’s no way to escape the planet. (I wish I would have pursued that astronaut career!) No matter where I turned, the “news” was bad. No matter who I spoke with, they sounded better off than me. (Boo hoo… how I despise weakness-especially my own)

The only emotional escape hatch available to me is gratitude.

But gratitude is a funny thing.

Most people use gratitude to be thankful for the little things. It’s a great habit and one we are all taught as children. When one puts the lens of gratitude on their blessings, they feel a bit better.

Sure. I’m grateful for the food in my refrigerator, not everyone has that.

Yes. I’m grateful for the power plant worker who guarantees I have electricity.I’m grateful for the rain that canceled my morning run so I can write this. Of course, I’m grateful for my family, my health… blah, blah, blah…

  • What about the crap that irks me?
  • What about the things that brings my blood to a boil?
  • Can I be grateful for those things, too?

The old adage of looking for a silver lining in the clouds is appropriate. But, that’s only a start.

But what if those clouds are a thunderstorm? Or a hurricane? It makes the task of gratitude more difficult… and even more important.

When everything is out of our control, our emotions or feelings are the only thing we can manage (Thank You, Viktor Frankl).

Is protesting important? Of course. Bringing about social justice and change is the cornerstone of an evolving society. Without change and the protests to improve ourselves, we’d all be peasants digging in the dirt.

Fighting the good fight is not the issue, however. If you only fight, protest and travel down the road of anger and distrust, you’ll not be a very happy camper (my personal experience). If one does not open their heart to gratitude, the only thing left is angst and hate. If you spend your days fighting, protesting, and posting your confirmation bias consistently, you are no different than FOX or CNN. You are simply pontificating your anger, distrust, or frustrations.

  • Have you made a difference by sharing your opinion?
  • Have you changed anyone’s mind about anything lately?
  • What have you done to for your own self-care?

I choose gratitude

But not the easy kind. I am working quite hard on being grateful for things I have no right to be grateful for. Why? It’s more than a mental health thing. I believe it will actually move the needle of change in others, if only a wee bit.

It takes a massive amount of energy and deep thought to be GRATEFUL for cancer. But, without a sincere feeling of gratitude; your emotions, and pain of thought will eat you alive as fast as the disease. When you find yourself, like I did, lashing out at those you love out of frustration, you can see how alcohol consumption has increased 50%, divorce rates are up, calls into the child abuse hotline has increase 30% during the Pandemic.

So, I took a deep dive into gratitude and came up with a list of the things I MUST be grateful for-regardless of my bias and political leanings. My personal biases simply don’t matter anymore. In fact, they were making it worse.

Instead, I am choosing to go beyond the silver lining and move towards gratitude for the things I obviously appreciate and even more so… lean into those things that previously disgusted me.

I am sincerely grateful for:

  • The pandemic because it brought perspective on community.
  • My liberal friends because they show their concerns for others.
  • My conservative friends because they believe in honoring capitalism.
  • My libertarian friends who choose no “sides” except sovereignty and freedom.
  • The Federal government as the individuals there do the best job they know how.
  • My conspiracy friends who encourage me to open my mind.
  • Anti-conspiracy friends because they believe in the goodness of human beings.
  • The protesters who champion justice over a state without accountability.
  • Our police who put their lives on the line daily to serve and protect all of us.
  • The looters who show me the results of a childhood with a lack of moral fiber.
  • My family, who always have my back, even when I have a tirade.
  • My Mom’s Alzheimer’s which has clouded her awareness of being in hospice.
  • My Dad, who makes us all laugh even when the jokes are the same.

I am grateful for my girlfriend. In spite of us being separated for nearly a year by 8,878 miles of ocean, she brings me unconditional love, peace, perspective, friendship, support, laughter and a daily dose of hope and faith that things work out for the best. It is because of her that I can live in gratitude during this global pandemic.

What area of your life, that causes you angst, anger, or disgust can you be thankful for?