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Relearning Gratitude

burnout gratitude Jan 20, 2024
Relearning gratitude after burnout

Cynicism in Burnout Makes Gratitude a Challenge

How are your gratitude muscles?

A little weak?

I’ve experienced burnout a handful of times; more times than I would like to count. And one thing that stands out as a particular challenge for me during those times is how hard it is to express gratitude. Just as we are challenged to feel generosity during burnout, gratitude often goes out the window.

Why is this?

Gratitude is a state of feeling grateful; an emotion. And when we are feeling exhausted, burned out, cynical, our thoughts are not generating the emotion of gratitude. We might occasionally feel relief if we notice that some form of suffering has eased, but gratitude is different.

Gratitude requires a step beyond relief; it’s a noticing and celebrating of something for its own goodness, and not just a lessening/abating of suffering. And while we don’t generally need to practice for the emotion of relief, gratitude is different.

So if you are feeling a bit weak in your gratitude muscles, I invite you to start celebrating small victories in others; notice something good that someone has done, or said, and choose to express your gratitude. This helps us to rewire our attention into noticing the good, and sitting in the emotion of gratitude.

Here’s some examples to get you started:

-As you take your coffee from the barista, smile, look them in the eye and say “thank you” before you head off.

-When your kids run up to hug you as you arrive home, smile at them and say “Thanks for the hugs,” even if you then need to ask for a minute to get settled.

-Call out something your staff does that’s really helpful, and make a big deal out of it. Reinforce the specific behavior that helps, and express gratitude

These are all small steps, but if you take the moment to pause and highlight these little moments, you are spending more time with the emotion of gratitude. You are building the muscle of noticing things that generate gratitude, and even when it’s expressed towards someone else (we often struggle to feel gratitude towards ourselves…), we still get to experience gratitude as an emotion.

In other words, win-win.

Hi There!

I'm Megan. I'm a Physician and a Life Coach and a Mom. I created this blog to help other Physicians and Physician-Moms learn more about why they feel exhausted, burned-out and overwhelmed, and how to start to make changes. I hope that you enjoy what you read, and that it helps you along your journey. And hey, if you want to talk about coaching with me, I'm here for that too! I offer a free 1:1 call to see if we are a good fit. Click the button below to register today.

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