4 Tips for When You Don’t Feel Thankful

It finally hit me yesterday what it really is that makes me love the holiday season so much.

when you dont feel thankful

I mean I love people and parties so, check.

I love giving and getting gifts so there’s another obvious, check.

I love sparkly lights and reasons to drink hot drinks, i.e. coffee so again, check.

But not one those things were really “it” and it was bugging me to figure out why. I was sitting at my laptop trying to come up with a special and unique gift for everyone on my list when it hit me. The holidays are such an intentional time of year. Everyone is trying to slow down, to drink in the moments, to show those they care about just how much they mean. People are in their kitchens trying to make love in bowls and plates and setting tables just right. Gifts are picked with thoughtfulness and care and there is a consensus of its the holidays so lets just try and show each other love.

The holidays should be a time of comfort, giving, joy and thankfulness.

But I don’t feel like it. I don’t feel like it at all. Because foster care we have spent the last year of our lives just trying to survive. Our foster son’s case was marked by the opposite of joy and thankfulness. There isn’t really anything intentional about trying to survive. Everything in my life pointed to the fact that though we were desperately trying to live we weren’t even treading water anymore. We were sinking.

My library books on intentional living and missional motherhood had fines that tallied over $100 because they were sure they were lost forever.

I was running the same loads of laundry through the wash multiple times because something had to give.

There were police officers knocking at my door in the middle of the night because of allegations of abuse. (that were so desperately deceitful and unfounded.)

The caseworker called to tell me that they were taking our son. The one who just months earlier we were told would be our forever son. And oh yea, he’s leaving in three days.

My life is falling apart and I don’t feel thankful.


Thankfulness is not a way you feel, its a state of being.

4 Tips for When You Don’t Feel Thankful

  1. Just do it

I think there is a current trend that says if I don’t feel like it than I shouldn’t do it. Thankfulness isn’t about feelings. So just do it. That sweet husband who just brought you a piece of pie while you were writing this? THANK HIM! That will do incredible things for your marriage too btw) I have found that if you do a thing you don’t want to do long enough the feelings will eventually follow. Read this book to point your soul toward thankfulness.

2. Make a list

For me writing is a way to work out my thoughts, feelings and teachings from God. Even if you’re not a writer making a list is a way of reminding yourself all that you have to be thankful for. Remember taking notes for a test? Same idea. Start here. Divide a page into three and title each section people, possessions and promises of God. Make a list of each of those things. Better yet, get out your Bible and do a topical study on the promises of God, if that doesn’t make you feel even just a little bit more thankful I don’t know what will!

3. Ask for help

Hopefully you have a sweet friend or husband you can go to who you can be super transparent with. “I feel as though I do not have a thankful heart, could you help me to remember to be thankful?” Simple as that. If you don’t have someone like this that you can go to remember that you have a God who will give you the desires of your heart if you ask in his will. (You can also read this post about creating a community.)

4. Be with your people

I LOVE our church’s bi-weekly small group. That house on those nights contain almost all the people who are most precious to me. Sometimes I just sit back and look around the room and thank God for each one of them in my heart. Who are your people? Who is it that when you are with them you are most thankful? Be with those people and thank God for them.

What are some ways that you cultivate thankfulness when you don’t feel thankful?

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