“Gratitude is a divine emotion: it fills the heart, but not to bursting; it warms it, but not to fever.”
~ Charlotte Brontë
2020 has been unlike any other year. We have seen a global pandemic, lockdowns, quarantines, political unrest, and a presidential election of scandalous proportions. On a more micro level, we have seen rising mental health issues, increased suicide rates, marital disintegration, sickness, death, the overworking of our health care employees, and record unemployment. There is no way around it: 2020 has been a year of hardship. Yet, with that said, I believe there are still things we can each be grateful for despite the difficulties 2020 has hurled our way.
I write fairly regularly about gratitude because I believe in it. Why? There are many benefits of gratitude and they are far-reaching. Being grateful affects us physically, emotionally, and socially. Expressing our gratitude enables us to be happier and more optimistic, improves emotional and academic intelligence, and heightens energy levels. It strengthens connection in times of crises or loss, and decreases levels of stress, anxiety, depression, and headaches. Being grateful boosts SELF-ESTEEM, improves SELF-CARE, expands our ability to forgive, and can heighten spirituality. Surprisingly enough, gratitude also strengthens the heart and immune system, and is CREDITED for decreased blood pressure.
We need these gifts of gratitude now more than ever!
I asked a few of my friends what benefits they had seen from COVID. A handful of them had experienced unemployment in their family, and if not that then decreased hours or full-time working at home. Yet each of these friends told me that in a roundabout way, COVID had allowed them to spend more time with their spouse, and for that they were grateful.
One woman wrote that during quarantine, she became aware of a neighbor with a terminal illness in dire need of some help. She and her other quarantined neighbors coordinated efforts and raised funds to get their suffering neighbor the help she needed and so much more. Good people banding together to make the dark world seem a little brighter…this story inspired me!
My point is that no matter what you and I are going through, there is always a silver lining. There is always something to be grateful for despite any difficult situation. If you don’t know where to start, begin by noticing small moments of joy in your day. For example, you can be grateful if you are able to witness a beautiful sunrise, if you make a stoplight just in time, if you manage to get through the most important things on your to-do list, if you are able to connect with someone you care about, if you have warm cozy loungewear and a fireplace nearby to end the day, etc. Little things can be the big things…especially in 2020!
This holiday season may just follow the 2020 trend of being unprecedented. We may be in quarantine, we may be allowed limited numbers during celebrations, or we may have a mask mandate despite festivities. We may be missing key family members or loved ones. We may be sick ourselves. Whatever the circumstance, I ask each of us to consider what we are grateful for. What blessings and benefits have come from the hardships of 2020 that have unexpectedly yielded blessings for us? Maybe it is a greater appreciation for good health, amazing healthcare workers, advanced technology, freedom of speech, democracy, support from family members, being forced to slow down, or maybe it provided the catalyst to reconnect to spirituality or to those you had become disconnected from… whatever it is, let’s be grateful this holiday season for what we DO have.
HERE is a gratitude challenge that was shared with me; let it spark an attitude of gratitude inside you! And if you are feeling stressed, overwhelmed, discouraged, depressed, or lonely, I urge you to give some attention to your mental health and wellbeing by tapping into available resources. I am grateful for technology that allows me to continue reaching you and I am here to help; contact me today to schedule a contact-free telehealth session!
Melissa Cluff is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist based in North Texas, providing face-to-face and telehealth therapy options to clients in Texas.
- Church of Jesus Christ: “Take a Gratitude Challenge”
- Cluff Counseling: Gifts of Gratitude
- Cluff Counseling: Teaching Your Little Ones The Art of Gratitude
- Cluff Counseling: You Are Blessed: A Simple Gratitude Challenge
- Country Living: 47 Gratitude Quotes to Bring Joy to Every Day
- Huffington Post: 11 Tips for Instilling True Gratitude in Your Kids
- Psychology Today: “Gratitude”
- Psychology Today: “The 6 Things We All Need to Be Thankful For”