I discovered the practice of gratitude during my cancer treatment. When my husband first suggested it, I thought it sounded all hokey and quite frankly I didn’t want a bar of it.
It was challenging some days to feel like I had anything to be grateful for, I struggled with it, I honestly thought that I had nothing to be grateful for, how could I be grateful when all I could think about was the shitstorm I was living in.
Acquainting myself to the feelings of gratitude was not one that came automatically to me, I had to work at it and I found it easier to write it down than think it in my mind. I remember sitting there thinking, really, is this what its come to; I’m writing a list of things that I feel grateful about? WTF!
I used to get embarrassed about what I’d written, I felt stupid feeling grateful for my dog for instance, really? Is my dog feeling grateful back? Probably, because he is a dog and I feed him, walk him and pick up his poo. Who wouldn’t be grateful for that? And my favourite, being grateful for being me, really, I know I’m me.
I used to have these conversations with myself all the time when I was writing my gratitude list. (Actually I still have them). As you can see, I didn’t take to it as easily as I probably should have. My sense of sarcasm and irony was leading the way rather than an appreciation for realising that I could take responsibility for redesigning my own life.
Gratitude by definition means “the quality of being thankful”. I began to notice that other people were also recommending the daily practice of gratitude in their blogs and online. I thought to myself, maybe there is something to this gratitude thing, is it really a magical way of life?
When you’re faced with a life challenging situation you’ll do almost anything to get your way through it. What’s the worst outcome it could give me? (At least I had a few of those nice notebooks to write in, that’s something to be grateful for).
So I pursued it – and to be honest it works. This is no weird hocus pocus thing after all.
It took some practice and sometimes a little while to think about what I had to be grateful for (besides me and my dog). But over time I began to notice and be grateful for all the good things around me, no matter how big or small.
Gratitude is a powerful emotion and it’s a gift that keeps on giving. When I used to find myself in that overwhelming state of turmoil during treatment, being grateful helped me see things a little more clearly. Bringing gratefulness into my daily life was an important part of my recovery.
It gave me the chance to stop and take time to open myself up to what was good in my life. Gratitude has become a way of life for me now and I consciously choose to live my life according to those principles. I have found it to be deeply rewarding to live my life this way.
By showing gratitude for the things around me, I stopped being so consumed about what was happening to me. It reversed my thoughts in a way, by concentrating on what’s good; the difficulties didn’t feel quite so bad.
Stepping away from those feelings of dread and turning them into a positive experience like showing gratitude gave me space to open my heart to my own good fortune.