A Month of Gratitude – Update

Epicurus

For the month of July my Healthy Habit was gratitude.  Each day I focused on the things in my life for which I am grateful, and I did my best to post about it everyday, but I missed a few here and there.  This habit has been, by far, my favorite and my most successful.  After just a few days in, I found that my thinking had changed, and that I was much more optimistic.  When things were good, I took the time to recognize that I was fortunate that they were.  And when situations were bad, I found that looking for something, anything, to be grateful for in the situation, made the bad not so horrible as I thought at first glance.

I read a lot about gratitude, and there seemed to be a lot of blog posts out there that talked about it during the month.  It was inspirational to read what others think about gratitude and what it means to them.  What gratitude means to me is thankfulness, being able to count my blessings and notice the small things that I often overlook, or take for granted.  It means shifting focus from what I am lacking to what I already have, which really is an abundance.  It means learning to be thankful for all the things that I am given, and giving up the sense of entitlement that I have often felt.  Gratitude means changing my perspective, finding the good in every situation.

Research has shown that the practice of gratitude improves the quality of life.  It makes people happier, reduces stress and encourages simplicity.  I found all of those things true as I took time to acknowledge the things for which I am thankful.

If I were to teach someone how to live in gratitude, these are the things that I would emphasize:

  • Be intentional.  Look for things to be grateful for.  Depending on the day and the situation, this can be easy or difficult.  When things are going well, and life is good, it is obviously easier to see things in a positive way.  Finding gratitude in difficult situations is harder, but there is always something there to be thankful for.  My AA sponsor has had me practice this for as long as I can remember – whenever I am down, angry, upset, or depressed, she has me come up with at least a few things that I have to be grateful for.  Doing so has never made my situations worse, they have always gotten better when I take time to be grateful.
  • Don’t focus on what you don’t have.  We live in a society that values ‘more’ and ‘better’.  More money, more friends, better homes, better cars, more things.  Focusing on those things keeps us from being thankful for what we have.  For the past month, I have paid attention to the fact that while I don’t have a long list of friends, or a huge bank account, I do have quality, intimate relationships that I wouldn’t give up for anything, and I have enough money for the things I really need.  Keeping those things in mind keeps me from suffering from unnecessary worry about what I don’t have.
  • Be humble.  Humility and gratitude go hand in hand.  A humble heart finds thankfulness and satisfaction in the gifts that it already has.  It demands less from others and from life itself.
  • Write it down.  When I write my gratitude list (which I will continue to do in my journal, now that July is over), and I can go back and look at what I was grateful for yesterday, last week, last month, it reminds me of what I have to be grateful for today.  There is also something about writing it down, or typing it, that gives it more meaning…it substantiates the feeling.  Give it a try, I promise this is true.

I have been amazed at the difference that the simple act of being grateful can make.  Overall, when I practice gratitude, I am happier and I worry less, I realize that I have everything I need, and I am able to give more of myself to others.  All it takes is finding a little bit of thanks in every situation.

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Gratitude – July 26

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Today I am conscious of my treasures, I have had a truly lovely day full of them.

Here is my gratitude list for today:

  • This morning a good friend of mine had an art show to sell some of her work.  She’s a very talented abstract painter and I have coveted her beautiful work for a long time.  Today, I was able to buy two of her prints (she was selling her work for ‘love contributions’, so buyers paid what they were able to) that I plan to hang in my office at work.  I can’t wait until Monday to see them on my walls.
  • Another good friend of mine went with me to the art show, and she brought her two lovely teenage daughters with us.  I had so much fun with them!!  My friend is one of my closest confidants, and I always feel comfortable talking to her about everything.  I am grateful for the connection that we share.  I thought that perhaps it might be a little bit difficult for me being around teenage girls when I miss my own daughter so much.  But it didn’t turn out that way at all.  I enjoyed being around girls that age again.  They laughed and talked and sang along to the songs on their iPhones that I had never heard.  It was a happy, lively energy that I have really missed.  I’m so thankful that I stayed in the moment and appreciated it for what is was rather than dwell on my past hurts.
  • After that I went with another of my friends to Michael’s to buy frames for my new prints.  It was my lucky day there!  All of the frames were half-off and I found two that were perfect.  My friend and I had a fun time chatting and hunting for stuff for new craft projects.  Again, I was grateful that I was able to enjoy the time with my friend and stay mindful of the good time I was having.

Bernadette's prints

  • I came home to a nice dinner that Austin made, and spent some time with my stepson before he had to leave to go back to his mom’s.  I love the dinners that the three of have together.  It’s really the only time that we use our dining room table (Austin and I usually eat in the living room while we watch shows) and the conversations, while eventually always turning to something gross – I guess that’s what happens when there are two boys at the table – are more focused and meaningful than the typical ones throughout the weekend.  I really like that, and I am grateful for it.

So, my Saturday was filled with friends, fun, family and beautiful things.  How was yours?

Gratitude – July 18

Better Days

This was an extremely busy week for me.  When I wasn’t working I was either sleeping, or wishing I was sleeping.  But now, the weekend is here, and for that, I am very grateful!!  I am looking forward to catching up on my blog reading, doing some writing, and otherwise taking it easy (well except for the 10 loads of laundry that are waiting for me).

The week, though busy, was a good one for me and I have many things for which to be grateful.  Here is my gratitude list for the last two days, since I didn’t make time to post yesterday:

  • I am always busy at work, but this week and the last have been exceptionally crazy because we started a new block of classes.  People are always coming into my office – coworkers, faculty, and students.  Sometimes they need help that is work-related, but what I really love is when they just come in to talk, share something with me, ask for advice, or offer me advice.  Yesterday and today I was especially grateful for the conversations that I had in between all of the work that I had to do.  It is such a blessing to me anytime someone comes in, closes the door and says, “do you have a minute to talk?”  Those are truly the highlights of my day.
  • I am grateful that Austin is teaching in the morning for the next five weeks.  Not only does that mean that we get to have all of our evenings together, but we get to see each other at work too.  It works out pretty good, being as he’s my favorite person in the world.
  • I’m so thankful that my stepson is here for the weekend.  I got used to having him here all the time while he spent two weeks with us, and I missed him this week.  It’s so fun to listen to him and Austin talking about Star Wars games, although sometimes it’s like they’re speaking a different language.  I’ve seen all the movies myself, but I have never heard of some of the people and places they talk about.  Who has heard of Utapau, or Darth Sion, for Pete’s sake?
  • Tonight, I am grateful for being able to do nothing.  When I got home from work, I gave myself permission to forget about my list of to-do’s and to just relax.  And that’s what I have been doing…just putzing around doing nothing…and it feels great.  It’s very easy for me to get mired down and feel overwhelmed with all of the things that need to get done (like the 10 loads of laundry I mentioned).  I do sometimes get lazy and put things off, put my internal dialogue when I do that sounds a lot like a mother yelling at her teenager to clean their room.  So I am grateful that today I have been able to do nothing and not feel bad about it.
  • I am thankful that it’s Friday, and that the weekend is here; that I get to spend time with my boys and that I don’t have to set my alarm for tomorrow morning.

I hope that all of you have a wonderful weekend, full of things that bring you gratitude.

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what are you grateful for today

Gratitude – July 14

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It should come as no surprise that I didn’t get to my gratitude post yesterday.  It was a 12 hour work day for me, and it was crazy busy.  But that doesn’t mean that I wasn’t mindful about the things that I am grateful for, it means I was just too tired at the end of the day to open up the laptop and type.  Better late, than never, right?

Classes started yesterday at the school where I work as a registrar.  I am grateful that we had such a successful start, as most of the vocational schools here in Tucson are struggling with enrollment.  I feel fortunate that we had so many new students start; it’s good for them and good for the school.  Of course, it means a lot more work for me, but I am thankful to have it.  I am also thankful that the day went so smoothly.  Even though the day was chaotic with things to get done, there was only one minor hiccup in my area.  That’s definitely something for the old gratitude list!

I am also grateful that when I got home last night, my Honey had some comfort food ready for me.  He knew that I would be tired and hungry so he was prepared.  It’s wonderful to be taken care of when I need it most.

I am grateful for the kind words of coworkers.  Yesterday, as I was running around like a chicken with my head cut off, more than one of my coworkers told me how much they appreciate what I do.  That type of recognition is what keeps me going.  The best conversation came early in the day though, and wasn’t work related.  I am very open about my recovery at work, and once a year I do a talk to the student body about alcoholism and addiction.  Yesterday, one of my coworkers came to my office to tell me how proud he is of me and my recovery.  He has a friend that is struggling with alcoholism right now, so he is seeing first hand just how difficult it is for alcoholics to stay sober.  I was touched by his comment.  We spoke for a few minutes and he told me that he had taken his friend to treatment over the weekend, and how hard it was.  Boy, I remember those days.  I am so grateful, though, that his friend was willing to get help.

All in all, it was a good, but exhausting day.  I am looking forward to another one.

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Gratitude – July 11

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Woo hoo!!  The weekend is finally here, and I am ready for it!  My work week was exceptionally busy this week and I am looking forward to having time to read, relax, and visit with friends this weekend.  This is going to be a short post because I am going to start my relaxing by going to bed early tonight. 🙂

Today I am grateful for the Dunkin’ Donuts coffee that my friend at work brings me every Friday morning.

I am grateful for being able to buckle down and get my work done today, after a week full of distractions kept me from getting some important things finished.

I am thankful for the yoga class that I went to this evening with a friend that I have known for 35 years.  I am also thankful that tonight my balance was pretty good, so I was able to think less about falling over and more about staying in the moment and breathing.

I am grateful that when I got home from yoga, my Honey had a delicious dinner made for us.

I am thankful for the hot bubble bath I just got out of to write this post.

I am thankful that I don’t have to set the alarm for tomorrow morning.

I am grateful that gratitude is the subject of so many blogs lately!!  I’ve been reading about it everywhere, so it must be something that we’re all thinking about.  And you know what?  I think that taking a few moments to remember the things that I’m grateful for, big and small, has really improved my mood, outlook, and perspective on the things that normally get me down. So, if you haven’t already, give it a shot!  Jot down a few things you’re thankful for in a notebook or journal, or share them with a loved one, or type them out in the comments below.  Try it for a week and see if maybe it changes your perspective too.

Happy Friday!!!

 

 

Gratitude – July 2

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Tonight, as I get ready to settle down and go to bed, I am grateful for so many things.  I had a day full of rest and relaxation because I am on vacation from work this week.   Here are some of the things that made me pause and remember how lucky I am.

  • After looking in the fridge and determining that we clearly had no food, and that we would all starve when dinner time came because  no one wanted to go to the store, my husband whipped up a delicious dinner of pork roast with caramelized carrots, mashed potatoes, and english peas.  It was a fantastic meal, I don’t know how he did it – when I looked in the fridge and pantry I thought  we were going to have to eat a ketchup and pickled beet salad.  My Honey is magic.
  • As I am off work this week, I am thankful that I am learning the difference between feeling bored and relaxing.  As my days off approached, I was both looking forward to them and apprehensive about taking them.  Often when I feel like I don’t have a 2 page to-do list, I begin to feel restless and start to fear boredom. Boredom is one of the reasons that I used to drink, and it scares me when I think I am starting to feel it.  I haven’t had any of that so far this week!  I have been able to be peaceful and grateful even just laying on the couch and cuddling with my dog.  I am starting to feel like my batteries are recharging.  That’s definitely something to be thankful for.
  • I am grateful for my husband’s t-shirts and boxers because that’s what I wore all day today…no make-up, hair in a ponytail, and comfy clothes.  So much nicer than heels and spanx and business attire.  I could get used to this!

Tonight I will go to sleep with a smile on my face, I am a lucky girl. 🙂

I would love to see your gratitude lists too.  Please share.

what are you grateful for today