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.
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