It’s July 2nd, so it’s time for a new Healthy Habit. At the beginning of the year, I decided that rather than making resolutions I knew I wouldn’t keep, I would try to develop some new healthy habits that would, hopefully, replace the not-so-healthy ones that I have. For this month, I had one all picked out, I was even going to write a post about it yesterday. For some reason, though, I procrastinated and didn’t get to it yesterday. Ok, honesty here, I was watching the last season of Dexter yesterday and couldn’t be bothered with writing. What a disappointing series finale, by the way. But I digress…
I’m actually glad for the procrastination because I’ve changed my mind about July. After reading several blog posts about choosing to be positive and grateful, I’ve decided that Healthy Habit #7 will be gratitude. I wrote about gratitude a year ago, and it has yet to become a habit, a go-to way of thinking for me, so I think it’s a good time to revisit it.
I try my hardest to recognize all of the things I have to be thankful for, and when things are going well, I’m pretty successful at seeing them and expressing my gratitude. But when things get tough, like they did last week, I often have a difficult time remembering that there is always something to be thankful for. Hindsight being 20/20, I can find things to be appreciative of after the fact, but in the moment that is usually the furthest thing from my mind.
When I choose a healthy habit, I do a lot of reading. I always have an idea about the benefits of whatever it is, but seeing it in writing makes it more real for me. I found an article in Psychology Today that talks about the positive results that can occur from living a life a gratitude. Here are some of their findings:
• Gratitude reminds you of what truly matters in life. It is all too easy to get caught up in day-to-day stresses and take for granted the things that are important to us. If you remind yourself each day of the things you are thankful for, you begin to focus more on the important and less on the superficial.
• Gratitude makes your problems seem less daunting and more manageable. We all have issues from time to time with work, family and friends. However, these issues often get blown out of proportion, causing stress and misery. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, up to 90 percent of all illness and disease may be stress-related. Try to be thankful for the challenges in your life, and the problems won’t seem so bad. For example, the next time you have a problem at work, you may want to remind yourself of how thankful you are to have a job in the first place. Say thank you and be well.
• Gratitude always comes back to you. When you begin to be thankful for what you have, you also begin to be more thankful toward other people. This cultivates positive feelings, and as the saying goes, “what goes around comes around.” In addition, the more you focus on the best in life, the more you will attract the best in life.
In recovery circles, there is a lot of emphasis put on gratitude. It’s the topic of many meetings, and I will admit that when I am not feeling like my most optimistic self, I have groaned and rolled my eyes when someone suggests that the discussion be about gratitude. But, continuing to be honest here, I always feel happier and more positive at the end of the meeting than I did at the beginning. I have found personally, that when I stop and think of just two or three things that I have to be thankful for, I can improve my attitude by leaps and bounds, even in the worst of situations. My sponsor has had me do that several times, and it works!
All of that said, walking down the path to grateful-land isn’t typically my first response to adversity, so I am hoping that by making it a regular practice, the next time something negative happens, I’m ready for it with a different perspective…one of thanks.
So, here’s my plan for July. I am going to take time each day to post about things I am grateful for (I hope you all don’t get sick of me). It will be a sort of public gratitude journal. I am going to focus on finding the good in every situation, not just the ones that go my way. I encourage everyone reading this to add the things that you are grateful for each day too. Let’s see what happens when August rolls around, maybe we’ll all be better at being thankful for what we have. 🙂
Note: If you would like to read the whole article about gratitude in Psychology Today, you can find it here: http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/the-heart/201305/gratitude-soul-food