“Gratitude is the best medicine. It heals your mind, your body, and your spirit. And attracts more things to be grateful for.”Live Purposefully Now
I am no stranger to hardship and I’ve survived enough pain and loss to last several lifetimes. In this I know I am not alone and in no way am I trying to gain the title of martyr. Life has been brutal. I unapologetically refer to myself as a miracle because I am still here and thriving. For about three years however life was pressing me on every side. This season was different than any other time of pressing.
With no idea how to move forward I simply, STOPPED! I got quiet, prayed, and listened. My marching orders were made very clear. I was to operate with grace, extending it to myself and others. I was to give of my time and resources. And, finally, I was to make gratitude a true way of life, taking nothing for granted. Grace, Giving, & Gratitude!
Let Science Tell the Story
Gratitude is probably one of the least highlighted or celebrated of the emotions. Yet, its healing properties and benefits impact our overall wellbeing. This truth is supported not only by the Counseling Community but the Scientific Community as well. As we approach the Thanksgiving season and the holidays practicing gratitude can combat the stress and anxiety experienced by many during the holidays.
According to Harvard Health Publishing, two psychologists, Dr. Robert A. Emmons of the University of California, Davis, and Dr. Michael E. McCullough of the University of Miami, have done much of the research on gratitude. In one study, they asked all participants to write a few sentences each week, focusing on particular topics. One group wrote about things they were grateful for that had occurred during the week. A second group wrote about daily irritations or things that had displeased them, and the third wrote about events that had affected them (with no emphasis on them being positive or negative).
After 10 weeks, those who wrote about gratitude were more optimistic and felt better about their lives. Surprisingly, they also exercised more and had fewer visits to physicians than those who focused on sources of aggravation. We all experience aggravation and it is an unavoidable part of life. However, how we respond is within our control. My favorite motivational poster in my classroom was, “Be the author of your own story.”
Create Your Own Gratitude Story
As with anything that we want to create as a habit or lifestyle it takes intentional repetitive practice. Creating a lifestyle of gratitude is no different. The fun part is that you get to craft what works for you and there is no right or wrong. The benefits of daily practice are at your fingertips. Lifehack has 40 really cool ideas. Here are a few to get you started.
- Keep a gratitude journal and add to it every day.
- Tell someone you love them and how much you appreciate them.
- Notice the beauty in nature each day.
- Nurture the friendships you have, good friends don’t come along every day.
- Smile more often.
- Watch inspiring videos that will remind you of the good in the world.
- Include an act of kindness in your life each day.
- Avoid negative media and movies with destructive content.
- Call your mom or dad more often.
- Cook meals with love, think of the people you will feed.
- Volunteer for organizations that help others.
Gratitude allowed me to face the possibility of breast cancer with grace and strength. It opened opportunities for me that were a result of unwavering gratitude in the midst of my pain. Gratitude made room for me to receive from the most unlikely places. May your gratitude journey bring you peace, healing, and strength for every season.
and strength for every season,