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Attitude of Gratitude. There’s lots of talk about it. But how do you do it if it’s new to you, or when you feel low?
Keep a list or journal. Make a daily (or hourly) habit of gratitude. If it’s new to you, put it on your “To-Do” list. Otherwise, you’ll (subconsciously) find ways to keep you busy with familiar, “safe” things. This may be a challenge at first. Do it anyway. Don’t block anything from the list. Being thankful for clean, safe drinking water, and indoor plumbing is just as valid as being thankful for the neighbor who checks in on you, or food, or life. No judgment when doing this list. Some say they are grateful for cancer. Some are grateful for all the good that came out of it—the help, the health, and lessons learned.
If you know you won’t get up and get the journal if you’re not feeling well to read or write, put it somewhere with easy access. If you’re a television watcher, put it on the t.v. screen when the t.v.’s not on. I’ve shared this before, I had my “wall of gratitude” on the living room wall. I’d lie on the couch and read the wall—and always feel better after doing so. (I’d also think of more things to add to the list.) Where do you hang out? What’s the easiest for you? Set yourself up for success. I knew I’d never get up and go get a journal to read, or write in on days I didn’t feel well. I knew my list had to be up and “in my face” for me to use it daily. I knew that, and it worked for me.
Add to the list daily. There were a few days—not many, but a few— where I sat down and told myself I wasn’t allowed to move until I added at least one thing to my gratitude list. (I also had a “rule” that I wasn’t allowed to write the same thing twice. If I wrote something like, “Mary for driving me to chemo” I couldn’t write it again when she drove me again.) One particular dark day, I had a real tough time coming up with any one thing to add to my list. Then, I shifted my thinking from me to others. Several things came to my mind. It made me laugh, and I got to add one more thing to my list, “my awareness of people/things/events for which to be grateful.” Yes. When it’s dark enough, you can see the stars.
One last thing. Remember, you’re not always a treat to be around—cancer or not. It takes no effort to say, “Thank you” to your family, friend, grocery store worker, stranger, Higher Power, dog or cat. Even if you’re exhausted beyond words, a nod, slight smile gets the message across. You may not wake up grateful for life everyday, but you can thank those in it for making your life that much more enjoyable.
—And with an attitude of gratitude, thanks for reading this blog!