Gratitude journaling vs praying away mental illness

Something that just clicked for me is how people resist the idea of “praying away depression” or another mental illness but the same people promote the idea of gratitude journaling as helpful for mental illness. But, like meditative practices, this just seems like taking a religious practice & taking the religion out of it.


Who are we being thankful to? It’s some weird abstraction. This is not in support of gratitude journaling or praying away mental illness. I find gratitude exercises to be the opposite of helpful for me in any way health wise. But what’s maybe clicking for me is the practice would at least make sense in the form of prayer so it’s not just sort of abstract gratitude rather than directed at a specific entity.


Is this maybe because a Western medical framework defines prayer differently? As a Muslim, it’s odd to me because literally the first chapter of the Quran which we repeat many times a day in ritual prayers is a chapter of praise & gratitude though the latter part may not be obvious to some nonMuslims. Literally the words we use to express gratitude to God/dess are Alhamdolillah which means Praise be to God/dess.

Dr. Laleh Bakhtiar’s translation of Chapter 1 of the Quran – Al Fatiha – The Opening:

In the Name of God, The Merciful, The Compassionate.The Praise belongs to God, Lord of the worlds, The Merciful, The Compassionate, One Who is Sovereign of the Day of Judgment. Thee alone we worship and to Thee alone we pray for help. Guide us on the straight path, the path of those to whom Thou wert gracious, not the ones against whom Thou art angry, nor the ones who go astray.


Anyways not exactly sure where I was going with this beyond gratitude practices can be really annoying & unhelpful – I’ll write more about my specific experience around this another time – but in part this may be because of taking the religion out of them.

Also that I don’t particularly appreciate the contradiction of insisting we don’t use religion to treat medical problems but then using repackaged religious practices.

Of course this is part of a larger issue of psychiatric treatments lumping in patients whose issues are predominately biological in origin vs patients whose issues are predominantly environmental in origin. Most psych health providers consider psych illnesses to be an interaction of biological factors with environmental factors but I think more needs to be done to tease those apart especially in terms of treatment options offered. Otherwise I’m def getting a repackaged version of praying away my mood disorder from the medical establishment.

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