Gratitude redux

Last night I was again reminded by something I was reading of how important gratitude is in achieving happiness (or at least equanimity), no matter how dire your straits. I can’t even count the number of people I’ve talked to who used this basic method to deal with severe depression or challenging circumstances, especially long-term. I was reading someone’s story about how he recovered from crack addiction and rebuilt his life, and the man basically said “platitudes saved my life” – meaning, I think, that even thought the idea of gratitude has become somewhat commercialized and appears in many self-help books, it is very powerful nonetheless. Sometimes these things have a reason for becoming so widespread – they work.

One woman said that when suffering from a major post-divorce depression, her best friend made her get up every morning and e-mail her 5 things she was appreciative of in her life – and she still does it, years later. It had the dual purpose of making her get out of bed, and helping her be happier. I realized I’d gotten out of the habit of reflecting on this every day. My way was to do it while lying in bed, just before going to sleep.

With that in mind, I’m going to try to do this more – feel free to join in. It doesn’t have to be 5 a day. I used to think of just one thing before I went to bed each night, and that was good enough. It can be something huge or tiny, anything at all. But since I haven’t done it in a while, I’ll do 5 to start.

Today,

1. I saw a new bird in my yard, in the cool of the morning (a Black-Headed Grosbeak). That’s always fun :) I suspected they were around, but wasn’t sure until now.

2. I am very happy that I am quickly kicking the relapse of a very bad summer cold I had almost all of July. It tried to make me sick again last week, and I am fighting it off successfully.

3. Because of 2, I get to go to a play and dinner with my Mom and her husband later today, and enjoy their beautiful (and cool!) house and garden.

4. A flyer magically appeared on my door to have my windows washed at a very reasonable price, which I really do need. Nice to have something sent your way that you don’t have time to look for or worry about otherwise.

5. I decided to try a low-carb high-protein diet, and so far have lost 5.5 pounds in 2 weeks – despite the second week including several days of restaurant meals on travel, getting a cold, and the night before weighing, enjoying a potluck of Indian food (which I organized before the diet). This approach is a lot easier to stick to in situations like these, I’m not hungry, and it’s working – yay!

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2 thoughts on “Gratitude redux

  1. Aho'i says:

    It’s true. And you don’t have to make things up. Ordinary things like hot and cold running water, a shower every day…with soap!!…is cause to rejoice. I think complacency is the eighth deadly sin. It’s so easy to take what you have for granted and while wishing for more losing what you have because if you don’t appreciate it you really don’t have it. Life is a blessing. The black headed grosbeak speckles the blessing in delightful ways. I saw a flock of cedar wax wings a couple of weeks ago in the same place as the last two years. Since they are usually on the move and I am not regular about visiting this particular spot, although it is one of my favorites, I don’t know what to call the feeling I got being there at the right time. It felt personal, a personal blessing. “Wake up and remember” is a good refrigerator magnet. Besides, remembering gratitude feels good and it feels good to feel good.

    Cheers,
    Aho’i

  2. Bill Callahan says:

    Thinking about the things that you are thankful for to become or remain happy is proven to work. If I just take a little bit of time, it’s easy to come up with so many things that I’m grateful for. My wife and son are the first to come to mind. I’m thankful for my job, even when I’m having a bad day! Just think of the simple joy of eating any sort of food. Some people really can’t do that.

    Thanks for sharing this, Teresa. You have a wonderful outlook on life. (And it very good life in general, if I can read between the lines.)

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