Is It Wrong To Not Be Grateful?

Written by Janelle Holden

I’m a life coach. Which means I help people feel better about their lives for a living. It’s my life’s work. So what I’m about to say in this post might surprise you.

If I were to broadly stereotype the life coaches I know (including myself) I would say there are 3 rules we live by:

1. Be positive - After all, most of our suffering starts from the negative self-talk spiraling through our heads every day. The things we say to ourselves makes Grendel’s mum in Beowulf  look nice by comparison. So, it feels better when we can break that endless yammering up a bit with a few positive thoughts about life and how things are actually going pretty well for us.

2. Be purposeful - Know what you want and know why you want it and stop saying “I don’t know” about your life. You always know. 

3. Be grateful – Do just a quick search on gratitude on google and you’ll find that gratitude has the power to heal, change your life, and expand your relationships. Whether you’re counting your blessings, or noticing small joys, or saying thank you every day, the practice of being grateful for what you have will make life seem fuller, richer, and more meaningful.

But here’s another rule to live by ….

4. Be honest - One of the most freeing and powerful things I’ve learned in my life is to be honest about my own feelings (even if they might disturb someone else).

Trying to be “the good girl” all the time … sucks. And living up to the shoulds going on in my own head is very, very tiring.

This morning I woke up thinking about Thanksgiving and all the things that I feel like I should be thankful for, but I’m really not.

You know, the standard things you say at the Thanksgiving table to make you feel like you’ve done your penance for living in a first-world country. Like, “I’m grateful for the food I’m about to eat (even though you your neighbor’s jello salad looks gross) or “I’m grateful for friends and family” (even though your family drives you crazy and you’re counting the seconds to when you can sleep in your own bed again).

I was all set to write about the power of gratitude and what I’m really thankful for  when it hit me that ingratitudes have been just as valuable to me (if not more).

After all, when I was ungrateful for my work I left a really good job to start a successful business that was more fulfilling. When I was ungrateful for where I lived I moved across the country to experience clean air, clean water, and wildlife again. When I was ungrateful for friends who brought me down, I found new ones who lifted me up.

If you’re having a hard time feeling truly grateful this Thanksgiving, here’s  a fun and freeing assignment that will likely make you laugh out loud.

Make a list of the things in your life that you’re truly not grateful for and you wish were different. The things you would never say at the Thanksgiving table, but you wish you could.

Here’s my example: “I’m not grateful for overcooked brussel sprouts.”

And then make a commitment to change this one area of your life to something that you could be truly grateful for.


About Janelle

Janelle Holden has spent hundreds of hours coaching people world-wide with celiac disease and food sensitivities how to transition to a gluten-free diet, stop struggling with food, travel with food sensitivities, and do more of the things they love. She is the author of, "Six steps to grab control of your diet and love what you eat" and an award-winning journalist, international coach, and speaker.

One Response to “Is It Wrong To Not Be Grateful?”

  1. Jennifer B. Jacobs February 15, 2014 8:47 pm #

    I LOVE THIS. I used to get SO tired of people telling me I should just feel grateful that I had a job and a salary even though I was miserable there. As if I should stay just because so many people out there were jobless, and I should therefore martyr myself. They meant well and didn’t want to see us go bankrupt or whatnot, but it only increased my fear of leaving the security of the familiar, even though the familiar was drowning me day after day. It took getting laid off for me to finally step into my own and decide to take my freelance business to the real deal. I wish I had left of my own volition and taken the plunge, but I’m here now, at least! And no bankruptcy yet either. :)

    When I was ready to move as well, people kept telling me I should just feel grateful for the house we have. Well, I love our house, but it’s becoming less practical the older our daughter gets, and I’m not apologizing for wanting something more. Again, people have good intentions and are just trying to help. But I believe living authentically to your real feelings is more important than feeling dishonestly grateful. I also know some people who stay stuck in marriages or jobs that are unhealthy for them just because they think they’re supposed to make the most of any situation and try to be content.

    I am a wholehearted believer in practicing gratitude and finding the best in our circumstances. But there is a balance to be found, and sometimes it’s the discontentment that spurs us on to the next thing we’re supposed to find. If we never allowed ourselves to feel that discontentment, we might miss the joy of experiencing the next leg of our journey. Thank you!

    P.S. Found your website through Elizabeth Malone of Moxie Coaching. ;) Love her.

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