Chicken Noodle Soup for the Soul: Gratitude

You are only one thought away from a good feeling.

-Sheila Krystal

Between balancing career with family, along with financial burdens and love, it is easy to get swept up in the craziness that makes up everyday. The result is that it’s easy to lose you focus, lose your values, and lose your sense of self. When people ask me what I do to remain grounded in trying times, my answer to them is that I remind myself of the things that I have to be grateful for.

With the Thanksgiving around the corner, this is the time to count your blessings. For today’s blog post, I thought that I would share some guiding questions and phrases that help me remember all that I have to be grateful for, from big things like family and good health, to small things like the ability to come home to my dog.

Joy is what happens to us when we allow ourselves to recognize how good things really are.

-Marianne Williamson

Good for the Soul, and Body

As I’ve said, gratitude is a practice that has kept me grounded, but there is so much more to it. I’m taking a medical sociology class now, and one of the leading causes of death in men and women is heart disease. After doing some research, it seems like gratitude doesn’t just benefit the mental state. This article from NPR focuses on a study done by a man named Paul Mills and came to the conclusion that the practice of gratitude reduces inflammation in the heart and increases heart rhythm.

I’m a person who believes that there is so much life to live, so I try not to let any of what I have go to waste. It would bum me out if heart disease was the way that I go, so it soothes me a bit that this research came out. While I write this, I am also reminding myself of how grateful that I am to have the good health that I do.

Being grateful also helps me take the hard times in stride. People who are getting to know me usually ask how I can remain so positive when things are going hard. It’s not that I’ve never had to handle rejection, disappointment, or longing. My answer to them usually goes along the lines of, “Because I know that I’ve dealt with things harder than this. I also have a lot of faith that things will get better, and I also know I have a lot of things to be grateful for.” Circling back, my gratitude and attitude towards life is what grounds me.

We can only be said to be alive in those moments when our hearts are conscious of our treasures.

-Thornton Wilder

Practice Present-Moment Gratitude

The thing that makes gratitude hard is that you can feel ridiculous when you’re trying to focus on it. Therefore, the best way to do it is to focus on feeling it in the moment. Take a second to clothes your eyes and breathe in the air, thinking of one thing you’re grateful for in that very moment. Before long, you will have trained yourself to do it subconsciously and it’ll become more natural.

I find that I love to wake up and think of one thing that I’m grateful for, such as, “Right now, I’m grateful that I get to wake up next to my dog.” And then I go from there. It’s usually a good way to keep that mindset in mind for the rest of the day.

The things that you’re grateful for also don’t have to be majorly impactful or deep. The truth is, these are things that matter to you, so they have an impact anyway and should be recognized. Whether big or small, we should be grateful for it all.

The more you praise and celebrate life, the more there is in life to celebrate.

-Oprah Winfrey

Acknowledge Your Gratitude

Sometimes it’s not enough to just think you are grateful for something. You mind processes about thirty-three thoughts a second, and you don’t recognize every single one of them. So what you want to do when you realize that you’re feeling grateful if say it aloud, or write it down. It takes a little more time for your brain to process it this way, and it’ll help you recognize the importance of this feeling long term.

Last Christmas, my sister gifted me a gratitude journal, and I know that really helped me. I use it at the end of a long day to reflect on all I have to be grateful for. For example, “I am grateful to have sisters that know and understand my feelings on a regular basis.”

Bonus points if you share your gratitude with someone else. You never know if they’re feeling the same way, or what kind of conversation this could lead to. Maybe your positivity is just what they need to get through the rest of their day.

When we focus on our gratitude, the tide of disappointment goes out and the tide of love rushes in.

-Kristen Armstrong

Be Grateful for You

When I started this, I didn’t realize that I had a habit of being grateful for other people and other things around me. That’s not a terrible thing, but I think overtime it made me forget to be grateful for the contribution that I am able to make too. Long term, that probably made me neglect my worth a little bit.

When I realized that, I tried to naturally incorporate how I also play a role in getting myself to be grateful for this. For example, “I am grateful for the relationship I have with Alexis. It was a good decision for me to continue to put an effort into our relationship even though it was hard at first. I’m grateful that I’ve put in the effort that I have to maintain our relationship.”

Sometimes, I overthink these things, but that doesn’t matter so long as I truly feel these emotions. This way, I don’t forget about my value as a person. Everyone should feel value in who they are and what they’ve contributed.

We often take for granted the very things that most deserve our gratitude.

-Cynthia Ozick

No One is Perfect

At the end of the day, we’re all human. We experience things, and even when you live with a grateful heart, there will be times where you have things that you just need to vent about. It’s okay to be aggravated, angry, or distraught. That’s human, and we all need these moments. The best thing you can do is acknowledge that feeling and let it out.

The sooner you do that, the sooner you can take a breath to clear your head. When you do, you’ll realize that one hard, rough moment makes all the good moments so much better. You don’t have to feel guilty for these moments, because these are your feelings, and your feelings are valid.

Recently, there was a moment for me in a classroom setting where I wanted a leadership position very badly. Because we live in a democracy, the class voted for their leader after speeches were given. When I didn’t get it, I kind of went to a dark place for a while because it made me feel unqualified and incompetent. Some time later, the adviser for the class told me about how great my speech was and how I had his vote. While I didn’t win, in that moment I was grateful for the recognition in my capabilities.

Trade your expectations for appreciation and your whole world changes instantly.

-Tony Robbins

What is something or someone you are grateful for, and why? Do you have a favorite quote centered around gratitude? If gratitude is not what keeps you grounded, what does?

At the end of the day, I know I can’t give you a sense of gratitude through a blog post. I do want to try though, because remembering what I have to be grateful for is what keeps me centered and grounded in my life.

Love Always,

Kristi My