Self help mantras abound in our society about “cultivating an attitude of gratitude,” cute rhyme and all. And while I won’t discount the value of gratitude practice in our lives, I definitely think it has a shadow side.
There’s a fine line between affirming what we have as enough and becoming complacent. And for those of us with disabilities in particular, who are often held up as sources of what I and others like to cynically call “inspiration porn,” the pressure to display a positive attitude in the face of disenfranchisement can become wearying and even rage-inducing.
I think it all boils down to autonomy. If a person freely chooses to celebrate gratitude as a nourishing and affirming practice that brings joy and much-needed perspective, great. More power to them. But no one should be shamed or coerced into being grateful — particularly those of us who face extraordinary challenges on a daily basis.
Want to receive more updates from me, including an exclusive short story? Sign up for my email newsletter here.
2 thoughts on “The Shadow Side of Gratitude”
I love this! My friend has written extensively about how the “attitude of gratitude” is also hurting women because we area being told to be grateful that we don’t say no or stick up for ourselves. I like your take on that sentiment as well.
Thanks. I think your friend’s theory is absolutely true.