While going through life’s changes such as illness or divorce, one may tend to think about all of the problems and heartache he or she is going through and forget to be grateful. There have been times in my own life when I was angry with the world, and I found myself complaining more. I wasn’t happy with my job, my wardrobe, my car or anything other thing I could find to criticize. I didn’t grumble or whine to others mainly because I hated when others grumbled openly to me about their circumstances.
It was not my personality to be unhappy, so I was determined to improve my moods and attitude. In my reading I discovered a gratitude journal was a great way to keep yourself thankful and in a positive state of mind. I had plenty of new journals around the house, so I picked out a lovely pink one to start recording grateful thoughts.
At the top of every page I wrote the date and the following statement: Today, I am grateful for __________________. My list seemed silly at first as I listed people, places and things. I was grateful for my children, my parents, and my friends. I was grateful for having a job, a closet full of clothes, a home. I was pleased my children were doing well in school. I was thankful for my financial blessings. I was glad I had sisters to talk to. Having enough money to buy Christmas gifts was comforting. Having a garage to park my car in when it was freezing cold was a blessing. Meeting new friends is refreshing. The list goes on and on. As I dedicated myself to writing down what I was grateful for I began to feel somewhat better about my life despite my predicament.
The more I began to show gratitude for what was going well in my life, the better life seemed. However, writing a gratitude list was not sufficient to make the real changes I desired in my life. My gratitude seemed dependent on finding enough items to write down to convince myself that life wasn’t so bad after all. I was starting to run out of things to write down, or found myself writing the same list over and over. Soon I began to write down what I wished to happen in my life that I could be thankful for. Soon my gratitude journal turned into a wish list. I was using my gratitude journal based on Proverbs 23:7, “As a man thinketh, so is he.” I was going to speak good things into my life and thank God for each and every blessing.
You have to be careful with gratitude journals because you can easily give yourself credit for the positive things that happen in your life. The real reason I even had things to be grateful for in the first place was because of God’s grace and mercy. His grace and mercy was the reason I was not destroyed, but I was not showing my gratitude to Him. My prayer life at this point was pretty much having a list of things I needed God to do for me during my life transition. My prayer journal contained daily requirements I needed from God including emergency requests.
I know it’s hard, but start a gratitude journal and write down all the things you are grateful for even while you are going through difficult times. I remember a hymn that says, “Count your blessings, name them one by one. Count your blessings see what God has done.”
There are other benefits for focusing on what is going well in your life. Gratitude can help you feel better about your life overall giving you optimism about the future. Those who show gratitude have fewer health problems. Gratitude can also improve your sleep. In the article Counting Your Blessings: How Gratitude Improves your Health, there are five suggestions: 1) Keep a daily gratitude journal; 2) Use visual reminders – such as post it notes; 3) Find a gratitude partner; 4) Make a public commitment to be grateful; or 5) change your self-talk.
The late Maya Angelou has a famous quote: “If you don't like something, change it. If you can't change it, change your attitude. Don't complain.” I agree with her. We have the ability to do something about the things we complain about. If circumstances are beyond our control, we can stay frustrated or move on to the areas we can control. By now you know that you cannot change anyone, however you can change your attitude about them. Don’t use up all of your energy complaining about others. Use your energy being thankful. Remember, gratitude can be expressed in many ways: through prayer, writing a gratitude list daily and through meditation. Whatever method you use, make the decision to add some gratitude to your day and watch the world become a better place. You will soon begin to realize just how blessed you are.
2 Corinthians 4:15(CEB) says, “All these things are for your benefit. As grace increases to benefit more and more people, it will cause gratitude to increase, which results in God’s glory.
Blessings and Happy Thanksgiving!
Janice R Love, Author
First Lady, Mom, Stepmom and Divorce Ministry Coach