Monday, April 20, 2020

The Power of Gratitude

"Your first thought every morning should be, "Thank you!". 
- Unknown

Good afternoon, friends! I pray that this post finds you rested and at peace. As I was typing that first sentence I was going to say "I pray that you had a restful and weekend and that today finds you at peace", but then it occurred to me that for so many of us "weekends" don't really exist in the sense that that they did prior to Covid 19. I don't know about you, but most days I don't even know what day of the week it is! Anyone else? So whether you know if it's Monday or not and you're as confused as I am, that pray that this Monday finds you blessed none the less.

And speaking of Monday,  if you read my last post then you'll know that today is the day I want to talk about GRATITUDE! As I've been a little anxious and whiny lately I thought that among the weapons I have at my disposal for fighting this battle, focusing on the gifts that are already mine would be a good place to begin, and it's powerful!

My first experience with harnessing the power of gratitude came when I read the book One Thousand Gifts: A Dare to Live Fully Right Where You Are by Ann Voskamp. If you are not familiar with this book, I highly recommend it. Just like the title, Ann challenged herself to document 1000 things she was grateful for, and was amazed at the transformative power that gratitude made in her life, and it has the potential to do the same for anyone!

In fact here are some of the benefits that gratitude can make in your life.

  • Improves you well being by 10% which is the same impact a doubling your income.
  • It's been proven that writing in a gratitude journal induces the relaxation response, resulting in improved mood, relaxed muscles and lowers blood pressure and your heart rate.
  • Gratitude improves your resiliency to stress and makes you more likely to offer support to others.
  • It likewise improves relationships, and increases your sleep quality and duration. 
  • But of all the things that gratitude can and will do is improving your immune system. Studies have shown that gratitude increases optimism which enhances the cell mediated immune system and aides your body in fighting off viruses and bacteria.
I don't know about you, but just reading that list makes me grateful for all the positive things that gratitude can produce in our lives! And I know from experience that this works!

Back a few years ago when I was going through a pretty rough time, I revisited One Thousand Gifts, and began keeping a gratitude journal. Like Ann, I was literally amazed at how quickly my perspective about my life began to change! It was a very difficult time, but rather than on focusing on what I did't have, I began looking for things to be grateful for. I had left everything I loved behind and moved back to a place I had sworn I would never return to, and yet within just a few days I began to notice a change in my attitude. And even more amazing, within just a few weeks I actually began to love things about my life that I had previously grumbled and complained about. It not only changed my perspective, it changed me, making me a much happier person to be around! It was such a positive experience to be honest I don't know why I got out of the habit, but it wouldn't be first time that something has worked well for me and then once things get better I kind of forget about it. I do the same thing when I am taking medication to physical ailments. I'll be really good at making sure I take the recommended dosage for the first couple of days, but then once I start to feel better, it's hard for me to remember. I've landed myself right back where I started for not following through so-many-times!

And so my friends, if you're someone, who like me, could do with a boost in gratitude, and perhaps struggles to remember to keep doing what works!, I'm currently working on some free printable tools to help myself in that effort, and I'll be sure to share them with you as soon as they are ready! In the mean time, I also want to encourage you not wait for something pretty to print to begin taking notice of all that you have to be grateful for and documenting it! I've already begun, and challenged myself to list three things each morning that I am grateful for, and here's my first installment.

- For cross-stitching. It is hands down my favorite hobby and I spent all of yesterday working on the piece you see on the right in the picture above. It brings me such joy and I am so grateful for such a lovely way to pass the time! I've been doing it for years now, and in fact the finished piece you see on the left is one I made up a couple of years ago.

- For slow, soft spring rang. I awoke to the loveliest soft rain this morning, and it's been steadily falling most of the day. Aside from a good thunderstorm now and then, it's probably my favorite kind of rainy day!

- For a truly remarkable and beautiful spring! I don't know if it's because of the times we are currently living in, the changes in the environment that have occurred, or if nature is just showing off this year, but this spring has been one for the records!

So there it is!  I'm off to changing my view of the world through the lens of gratitude! Care to join me?

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