While at Green Mountain last September, I enjoyed a lecture given by Carolyn Whitney on the value of gratitude. Apparently, an expression of gratefulness has health benefits, both psychological and physical.
The singular act of saying “I’m grateful” is good for the body and soul. Who knew?
Upon my return home, I concentrated on mindfulness and exercise and just recently decided to start my gratitude journal. I keep a notebook in the drawer next to my bed and I jot down roughly what I did that day so as to put my comments in context and then write down those things for which I am grateful.
At first, it seemed to flow:
- Monday – Ran crazy errands all day “grateful for the beautiful weather to be out and about in all day.”
- Tuesday – Eye doctor’s appointment “grateful for good medical care in my immediate community.”
- Wednesday – Dinner in town “grateful that I can afford to eat out at nice restaurants.”
The week progressed with my gratitude expressed for nature, good health, pretty fall foliage, email from an old friend, etc. After a week or so I felt like I was reaching – “grateful for butterflies, babies and chocolate” kind of nonsense.
“This isn’t right”, I thought. And I didn’t feel like I was reaping the warm and fuzzy rewards that I expected.
Finding Gratitude From Within
So, in an effort to re-frame this adventure, I sat down in bed, cozied up with my notebook and thought about what I’m really, really grateful for in my life.
Lots of negative stuff arose but I wrote it down anyway-
- I’m grateful that I can control my temper when my daughter makes me insane.
- I’m grateful for the ability to stay inside my happy bubble when my husband is grumpy and curmudgeonly.
- I’m grateful for my ability to maintain my self-esteem when my husband is critical.
- I’m grateful that I can see that I have a good marriage despite the ups and downs.
- I’m grateful that I have a spiritual faith that I lean on in times of trouble.
- I’m grateful that I can truly love my friends and family despite their faults and that they can do the same for me.
- I’m grateful that I have the time to effect change and give back through volunteerism and genuinely feel pride in those efforts.
- I’m grateful that I have learned to love myself and my body without self-loathing and self-criticism.
- I am grateful that I have found the power to put my needs first without degrading anyone else’s. I am grateful that I have re-framed my own perception of weight management into a healthy, mindful life approach.
I’m still grateful for the eternal things in my life – good health, good fortune, good marriage, good family and an abundance of other good things.
Perhaps contemplation of eternal blessings is enough for one to find the benefit of gratitude journaling, but for me it is the inward looking that brings me the greatest feeling of gratitude.
Well, that and chocolate. I’ll always be grateful for chocolate.