A helping of gratitude


Gratitude , The Tall Ships' Races, Szczecin 2007
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I woke up one morning and a flood of thoughts threatened to overwhelm me. They all had one reigning theme and it was just how much my life really sucked.  I was jobless, finances were tight, my exercise regiment was not yielding the instantaneous results-as seen on TV- I desired,  and as I continued to mentally checking off the list of woes in my life; I realized that I was in a conundrum that only I could get myself out of.

I decided to try out the ‘it could be worse’ cliché. I wondered whether identifying all the things in my life I was grateful for could sway my mood and the feeling of despair that was clenching and squeezing what little life I still had in me. I decided to focus my energy towards finding things I was grateful for. I started with my life. I was grateful that I had the time- due to my jobless state- to lay there and rationalize what I was thankful for. I am pretty sure many of us don’t have that luxury.  I proceeded to be thankful for my son, my husband, sisters, parents, friends, house, car and on and on until slowly but surely I could feel the despair edging out of me and a lighter better mood overtook me.

The power of gratitude is irrevocable and when things actually seem worse, the overused line “it could be worse’ actually bears merit because it really could be worse. Check this out, researchers (http://studentaffairs.case.edu/counseling/mindbody/newsletter/0307/) have found that:

people who were grateful experienced more positive emotions, had greater life satisfaction, optimism and vitality, while experiencing less stress and depression. Grateful people also tend to be more in tune to the feelings and needs of others, and act accordingly by being more generous and helpful.

We possess the power to control our feelings and our thoughts. The process of being grateful for what is right is a proven method in shifting your mood so that you can achieve better results in the challenges that you might have to encounter. One example of how you can manage your mood and ultimately your health is to keep a gratitude journals. You would simply, at the end of the day, list five to ten things you are grateful for.  It could be anything such as when I listed that I was grateful my plants were still alive. The thing is, you must not put anything negative in it. There are numerous samples of gratitude journals on the web for those who are technology savvy.

So remember, next time you feel overwhelmed by all the things that are not going right, remember that it could be worse, and then take the time to be grateful for what is right in your life however minute it might be.