Practicing Gratitude

December 12, 2020

During the winter of 2003-04, I was at one of the lowest points in my life.  In a strange, new city, in a small apartment (after years in a 5 bedroom home), I had deliberately left my husband of almost 38 years.  Tough, but courageous, it was a positive move.

On TV I listened intently while a psychologist told a woman to make a list of 100 things she was grateful for.  The woman scoffed.  But I thought, “Although my situation is totally different, I think I need to do this.”  With hesitancy, anger, and skepticism, I began this daunting task.  It took me many hours, but making that list of 100 changed my attitude, my life.

Fast forward fourteen years.  In 2016 I was housebound after a horrific two-car accident in Nebraska — a long way from home.  A gal friend of mine (who was driving) and I were hit by a drunk driver going 88 mph.  He lost control, went into the median, became airborne, and hit us — three times.  He killed his girlfriend and hurt the other couple in that car, us two, and himself.  Yes, he now is in prison.

After major surgery (alone) and physical therapy during a month in a Nebraska hospital, I was discharged.  At home, with numerous nights of horrific pain, sleeplessness, flashbacks, pity parties, and PTSD, I remembered that gratitude list while going through my divorce.  My energy and brain power were too diminished to make a list of 100, but I thought I might manage writing a daily list of maybe three.  To begin, they were small things–the sun rays on my body in bed, a nurses’s kind words, talking my first steps after surgery.  Again, my lists began changing me.

Gratitude unlocks the fullness of our lives.  It turns what we have into enough.  It turns denial into acceptance, chaos into order, and confusion into clarity.  Sometimes life tears us apart, but there are always, always gifts in it.

So find a small notebook or cut paper into small squares and staple them at the top or sides.  Then every, single day write three (3) things you are grateful for. Look for small things, such as a beautiful sunset, a hot cup of cocoa, a text or email from a friend, a memorable nap, etc.

And then pay attention, and notice how doing this is slowly beginning to change your life–bringing you a sense of calm, some peace, some healing, and scooting away the negativity, bringing more positivity into your life.




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