Practicing gratitude is a powerful way to live mindfully, paying attention to and giving thanks for the good things in our lives. Gratitude can provide a shift in perspective and help us find purpose and hope.

It’s important to understand that gratitude cannot exist until we validate and process our uncomfortable emotions.

When we’re experiencing frustration, grief, or uncertainty, common responses are sentiments like “Who am I to complain when there are people who have it so much worse than me?” (this is comparative suffering, a system of ranking pain that only makes us feel worse) or “It’s selfish to feel like this when I have so much to be thankful for.”

Dismissing emotions is a form of gaslighting, and it compounds the pain. Accepting what we’re feeling without trying to deny, numb, or run from it will allow us to move through the emotion and get to a place of clarity where we see that we can feel something difficult AND we can feel thankful.

We are strong enough to straddle this paradox.


This past year was one of the toughest of my life, as I know it was for many others. While it’s tempting to want to torch 2021 or to view the past two pandemic years as a steady-burning dumpster fire, I’m challenging myself to look at the whole picture.

Along with the struggle and suffering, there was beauty, joy, and love. Along with the loss and pain, there was renewed strength, resilience, and deepened gratitude.

That we find light through darkness is the paradox of life, and what gives me hope for the future.

Let’s take inventory of all the people, places, moments, and memories that lift us from despair, and make them an oasis in our minds and hearts.

Let’s honor our experiences from the past year and face 2022 with openness, equanimity, and kindness for ourselves and each other.

May we all experience grace, peace, and love in the new year.