What good is gratitude in effed-up times like these?

I have post-election flu. I need a sick-leave from reality. How can this be happening.

24h ago, I was buying a huge tub of caramel cone ice cream, CERTAIN that we'd be eating it in celebration of Hillary's victory that evening. It honestly never even occurred to me that we'd be drowning our shock and sorrows in it instead...

My Facebook feed felt like a funeral - lots of friends coming together for a very sad reason.

I was actually going to launch a Gratitude Challenge today to celebrate Thanksgiving. So much for that. Nobody I know is going to be in the mood for warm, fluffy feelings right now.

Amidst all this doom and gloom, gratitude feels frivolous, misplaced, inappropriate even.

Last night, I went to sleep to Trump's victory speech, floored and heartbroken, thinking, this is basically telling the world that it's OK to be a misogynistic racist and hateful bigot because not only do you get away with it, you get to WIN.

This morning, I woke up to Hillary's concession speech. Forgive the melodrama but it felt like listening to a mother's parting words. 'Be strong my dear, you'll be OK, I'll be with you in spirit." "Nooooooo!!! Don't goooooooo!!!" I cry, sobbing into her hand. 

But by the time she was done, I was floored in a whole other kinda way.

So THIS is what rising from heartbreak looks like, this is how to get up off the floor with dignity, to create space in our hearts for both that which we believe in, and that which utterly baffles us. This is what gratitude looks like when you're feeling completely and utterly crushed and defeated.

"I am so grateful to stand with all of you... This loss hurts, but please never stop believing that fighting for what's right is worth it...let us not grow weary and lose heart, for there are more seasons to come and there is more work to do." - Hillary Clinton

Maybe gratitude is not frivolous right now, maybe it is absolutely essential that we hold on all the more fiercely to that which is right and good in the world.

Many have compared this election to 9/11. A psychological study done in the aftermath of the 2001 attack asked the question, what good are positive emotions in crises? The results showed that "amidst this amalgam of anger, sadness, fear, and anxiety...subtle and fleeting experiences of gratitude, interest, love, and other positive emotions appeared to hold depressive symptoms at bay and fuel post-crisis growth."

So science says it is possible to hold both grief and gratitude in our hearts. And that seeking out gratitude, as subtle and fleeting as it may feel, will not only ease the pain, it will make us more resilient and powerful in the long run. 

When I was researching for the Gratitude Challenge, I came across 365 Grateful, and was so moved by their beautiful video about Amy. Like our Bailey, Amy's little baby had a congenital heart defect, but tragically, hers didn't make it...

The next day she told herself, "OK, you have a choice now. You can fall to pieces or you can get on with this." And so after the funeral, she started taking one photo a day of something she was grateful for. "What started off as a coping mechanism became a healing mechanism."

One of her gratitude photos was of the lyric, it is now that my life is mine. "That was the turning point for me, where I realised this gratitude thing is now a part of my life. I was taking ownership of my life... I had chosen to be happy."

It is now that this life is mine, by Hailey Bartholomew

I know, nobody's died here. But for some of us this feels like the world as we know it, or thought we knew it, is falling to pieces. I don't know if we'll be able to afford healthcare for Bailey if/when Obamacare is appealed. Just as American Muslims don't know if they're still safe, and women don't know if they'll be punished for choices they make concerning their own bodies.

But we can choose how we respond to this madness. We can fall to pieces, or get on with this.

And so, I'm going to get on with this. For there are more seasons to come and there is more work to be done. The Gratitude Challenge is back on, people. Who's in?! C x

(NOTE: FOR THOSE OF YOU READING THIS AFTER NOV, 2016, I'LL BE RUNNING ANOTHER ONE IN NOV, 2017 - STAY TUNED!)

Thanksgiving Gratitude Challenge

Thanksgiving Gratitude Challenge

And in case you're still deciding, here's a little infographic I put together on all the potential side-effects of this challenge:

Scientific benefits of gratitude

Scientific benefits of gratitude