An important component to practicing gratitude is not just knowing how to practice it, but when to practice it. Today’s gratitude practice will identify one of those times.
Work is going great. The kids are happy and healthy. My parents are healthy. My partner and I are happier than ever. Our bank accounts are in good order. I feel great!
Something bad is bound to happen soon. This can’t last.
How many times have we all felt this?
Joy is the most vulnerable feeling we feel. When we experience joy, we open ourselves up to potential heartbreak, hurt, suffering, and pain. By putting barriers on our joy, thinking when will the other shoe drop, we protect ourselves from vulnerability. Unfortunately, this also prohibits us from fully leaning into our happiness.
This is called foreboding joy: we are terrified that joy will be taken away from us that we push it away. We beat pain to the punch. As a result, we don’t fully experience joy and all that it has to offer. We limit our joy.
Gratitude as the Antidote
Oprah interviewed Dr. Brené Brown on “Super Soul Sunday” in 2013. In the interview, Brené said, “I have never interviewed a single person who talks about the capacity to really experience and soften into joy who does not actively practice gratitude.”
When we become aware that foreboding joy has taken over, we can practice gratitude. Gratitude centers us in the present-moment, whereas foreboding joy is future-oriented. A future-oriented mindset is anxiety-producing: we have no way of predicting when the other shoe is going to drop. We can, however, express gratitude for the joy we are experiencing in the present moment.