The practice of gratitude is in the forefront of our minds during Thanksgiving. It may be the only major American holiday focused on giving thanks for all of life’s blessings. In studies done by Robert Emmons, a psychologist, he identified that practicing gratitude as a mindset decreased anxiety and depression, improved sleep and could even improve your well-being through a better feeling of connection with others. Gratitude is defined as an attitude of thankfulness about good things and people. It is a gift from outside ourselves our life and requires recognition of this when we are involved in the practice of gratitude. Expressing our thankfulness daily provides a way to practice this attitude of gratitude. It can be expressed verbally as well as in writing with writing is the most concrete way to practice your gratitude.
Buddha said in one of his famous quotes, “The mind is everything. What you think you become.” Thinking about others rather than ourselves, has to be our focus for gratitude to work well. In a paper published in June 2014 in the Journal of Positive Psychology, it was shown in a study that keeping a diary of three blessings worked better than recalling three times when a person felt a sense of pride in his or her own accomplishments. In that study unlike most psychological treatments which can fade over time, gratitude was the gift that continued to give back.
So how can we practice gratitude in our daily lives? By practicing writing about three things and/or people that we are grateful for each day in a journal. Gratitude is a practice or a discipline, so even if it doesn’t come naturally, you can develop the steps involved.
Specifically the steps for action on gratitude (step 3) involve:
Every night – before you go to bed, think about your day and remember three good things that happened. Try following these steps when thinking about the things that happened that day.
Write them down – (this is important) You can do this with a small notebook or diary you own or you can write them online.
Think about why – for each thing you’re grateful for, write down why you are grateful and/or why you feel good about this.
Look back – after a week, have a look back at what you’ve written and write how it makes you feel. Are there repeat themes that occur?
Keep it up – try this for a couple of weeks at least. Soon it becomes a habit and your thoughts of gratitude become part of you.
As you follow the practice of gratitude you will begin to focus on more positive things being less negative throughout the day. You will be humbled by the things you have to be grateful for and you will become your thoughts. You will indeed become more outwardly focused and less self-centered which will improve your thoughts and attitude. You will be living a life of gratitude. Not just talking the talk but also walking the walk.
In my musings on life and what truly matters in our inner life and soul one of the biggest questions was “Who am I?” That is what led to my journey to get in touch with who I was. There was a time when I identified as nurse, mom, wife, woman and chauffeur. But I didn’t really know who “I” was. Everyone gave me an identity that involved my relationship with them. However, when I was alone those things I was identified with didn’t work for me. I gave so much of myself away that I didn’t really know who I was when I was alone or by myself. This knowledge left me empty and longing to start the journey to know myself alone or my inner life and soul without all the labels that society and others put upon me.
So my journey into my life and inner soul and my identity began. I realized why I felt so alone even in a crowded room. It was because my inner self was alone and lonely. I felt different. I was in a marriage with someone who was an alcoholic. I had two stepchildren with limited relationships and one child of my own from our marriage. Day after day our lives were filled with chaos and discontent. There just didn’t seem to be enough of me to go around. Everyone wanted and needed something from me but I never took any time for myself. Therapists call this a lack of self-care. This lack of self-care left me with a dilemma. How could I care of my inner soul if I didn’t know who I was? There was a good list of self-care attributes from Pinterest.com that I have included below.
I was not practicing most of what was listed.I did know in my gut when something was wrong and most of the time didn’t do it (#1). I tried to trust my instincts or my gut when I was aware of them (#4). I was not afraid to say “No” when it came to my children although it made me feel guilty when I did. I often said “No” to myself. But I rarely said “No” to my spouse or other adults (#7 ). I often said “Yes” but probably for the wrong reasons (#8). I was not KIND to myself often putting myself down for what I did or said (#9). I was not able to let go of what I couldn’t control…my alcoholic and the chaos it included (#10). I was definitely a people pleaser (#3). I often spoke negatively about myself to others and in my head (#5). I was not able to say “exactly” what I meant (#2). I had given up on my dreams so long ago that I couldn’t remember what they were (#6). I LOVED or at least felt like I did but it didn’t always feel like love (#12). And oh the drama in my life and the negativity were in abundance (#11). So I began daily to concentrate on this list and tried to practice these steps daily. I wasn’t perfect at this but I slowly began to care for myself becoming more positive with less negativity and drama. Practice does make perfect and today I stay in the present rather than the past or future, I like being in the “now”. Life is simpler that way.
As you look at your life and inner soul today how are you at your self-care and knowing who you are? Are you able to stay “present” in your life and know what really matters? If not, know that with some knowledge, support and love for yourself that you can begin to practice living life the way it is meant to be lived. In an article written recently in Tiny Buddha ,”Simple Reminders to Focus on What Matters in Life” by Shannon Kaiser , she reminds us to make time count by staying in the present; choosing to be happy now; loving more deeply and believing in miracles. You can be that “miracle”. Have the courage to change what you can control (yourself) and practice what Maya Angelo said…”If you don’t like something, change it. If you can’t change it, change your attitude.” It is possible to change by paying attention to your inner soul. You can do it. I know you can because I did.
WHY DON’T WE ASK FOR HELP WHEN WE ARE HURTING? IS IT BECAUSE WE ARE AFRAID TO ADMIT TO OURSELVES THAT WE NEED HELP OR SUPPORT TO SOLVE THE PROBLEM THAT IS CAUSING US TO HURT? MANY OF US ARE AFRAID TO ADMIT TO OURSELVES THAT WE HAVE A PROBLEM WE NEED HELP WITH. TO ADMIT THIS MEANS THE PROBLEM IS REAL AND ISN’T GOING TO DISAPPEAR. WE CAN’T JUST KEEP ON IGNORING THE CAUSE OF THE PROBLEM BECAUSE WE CAN’T EVEN IDENTIFY WHAT THE PROBLEM IS OR THE CAUSE. WE GO THROUGH OUR DAILY ROUTINES IN ROTE FASHION JUST PUTTING ONE FOOT IN FRONT OF THE OTHER. BUT AT THE END OF OUR DAY. WE ARE MISERABLE, HURTING AND DEFEATED AND EITHER WE TAKE IT OUT ON THOSE AROUND US OR OURSELVES. FINALLY, WE JUST GO TO BED AND TRY TO FIND SOME ESCAPE IN SLEEPING.
AT TIMES WHEN I HAVE BEEN EXPERIENCING EMOTIONAL PROBLEMS, I HAVE BEEN FEARFUL OF ASKING FOR HELP FROM MY FAMILY OR FRIENDS WORRYING THAT THEY WOULD EXPRESS THEIR OWN OPINIONS AND JUDGEMENT. I CAN REMEMBER LONGING FOR SUPPORT FROM SOMEONE WHO WOULD NOT JUDGE ME OR THE PERSON(S) INVOLVED. AT THE TIME, I WAS FINANCIALLY STRESSED AND COULD NOT AFFORD PROFESSIONAL COUNSELING. I REMEMBER THINKING “WHAT AM I TO DO?” FORTUNATELY, I WAS ABLE TO FIND A LOCAL SUPPORT GROUP THAT WAS ANONYMOUS AND OFFERED THEIR EXPERIENCE AND HOPE. OVER TIME I ACCEPTED THEIR SUGGESTIONS AND LEARNED TO DEAL DIRECTLY WITH MY PROBLEMS AS I BECAME STRONGER.
YOU TOO CAN FIND THE SUPPORT THAT YOU NEED FROM THIS BLOG WEBSITE. HOPEFULLY, YOU WILL LEARN FROM THE DIFFERENT IDEAS AND TECHNIQUES DISCUSSED AND ACCEPT THE SUPPORT AND MOTIVATION OFFERED. OUR GOAL IS TO HELP YOU TO DEAL WITH YOUR PROBLEMS AND FEEL GOOD ABOUT YOURSELF AND WHO YOU ARE BECOMING. YOUR TRUST IN THE HELP OFFERED AND ALSO IN YOURSELF WILL GROW AND BLOSSOM AS YOU BECOME A STRONGER PERSON.