Not Grateful? Fake it ’til you Make it.

Yeah, here we are again. November. When everyone trots out their gratitude practice, and the focus of everything from store fronts to social media feeds is on how grateful we all should be.

But gratitude can be hard…because life is hard, and this season of forced gratitude doesn’t help. Add a layer of guilt about not feeling grateful over the general malaise of already not feeling particularly thankful and you can be headed for a full-blown depression.

So here’s the thing: gratitude can be faked. I don’t mean BE fake (ie pretend to appreciate people you don’t or act like you’re glad something you actually hate is happening). No. Don’t do that.

We all have things we KNOW we should be grateful for–food, shelter, our income, our health–but too many other struggles in life interfere with our ability to really FEEL grateful for those things. That’s okay. It happens.

BUT, if we behave like people who DO feel grateful for those things, we actually trick our brains into believing that we ARE, indeed, grateful, and our brain rewards us with a good boost of feel-good oxytocin.

That’s one of the reasons for my Gratitude on the Move group. Taking what we’re grateful for and putting it into action can help us reap the rewards of gratitude even when we’re not “feeling it.” But it’s not a purely selfish practice. Grateful people treat other people better and, therefore, improve our society as a whole. Not often you get to do something that makes you AND the people around you feel better. Cool, huh?

All of the above applies to everyone. Christians need to take it to the next level. Even though we know that we are God’s good creation, loved beyond measure and saved by grace, we all have seasons where it’s hard to feel it. We feel disconnected from God, unworthy and unloved. In those times, it’s even more important that we live what we claim to believe. That we live lives of grateful response to what God has done for us through Jesus Christ. Turns out that acting like the kind of Christian we know we should be can help us BE the kind of Christian we want to be.

Rev. Anne Russ is an ordained pastor in the Presbyterian Church (USA), currently based in New York City. Doubting Believer provides tools and encouragement for the rollercoaster ride of your faith journey. Follow me on Facebook , Instagram and YouTube. You can also follow on TikTok. Get emails to keep up with all that is happening.

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