Do you think it is possible to feel grateful while at the same time experiencing a high degree of stress in your life?
I don’t believe this is possible. I’d go so far as to say that my periods of high-stress are always associated with a lack of gratitude. I can only feel stressed when I’m focusing on what I don’t have rather than what I do have.
New Agers and Their Gratitude Lists
I’ve tended to feel a bit cynical at any mention of keeping a gratitude list – or even worse, a gratitude journal. It always sounded a bit too much like tree-hugging for my comfort levels. The old me would have worried that writing a gratitude list would be opening the door to vision boards and magic crystals.
I have written gratitude lists in the past –albeit reluctantly. During that period of my life when the only holidays I ever took were to go to rehab, I’d usually be expected to do some type of gratitude list as part of the program. I always resented doing it because I saw it as ‘busy-work’ – writing for the sake of writing.
I’ve mellowed out a lot since hitting middle-age. I guess my years of struggling against the flow in life have managed to wear down some of my rough edges. I no longer automatically dismiss something because it sounds a bit ‘new age’.
I still haven’t started a gratitude list, but I am using the same principles in a new way.
Feeling Grateful Every Day
I mentioned on here yesterday that my motivation and feelings of positivity have shot through the roof since I began experimenting with fasting. Taking control of my diet has greatly increased my energy levels – it has also encouraged me to introduce some new routines into my life and one of these is being grateful.
In another post on here a couple of weeks ago, I mentioned my goal to achieve financial security by age 50. I’m going to need to stay motivated and focused to make this happen, so I’ve introduced a new ritual into my life – it doesn’t involve a vision board, but it is kind of similar.
At least twice a day (I use my iPad to remind me), I take a few moments to remember all the good things in my life:
I think about my son, my wife, my career as a writer (dream job), my dog, my car (I didn’t even learn to drive until I hit 37), and how wonderful it is that I live in a beautiful country like Thailand.
I’ve got so many wonderful things in my life, but up until now they haven’t been appreciated because I’ve been so focused on getting more.
Once I’m feeling suitably grateful, I next focus my attention on my achievements. There have been periods of my life when I’ve been a complete shit, but I’ve always been my own harshest critic. My low self-esteem has meant that I’ve felt uncomfortable with any praise or claps on the back – even from myself.
I now know it is vital for me to honor my own achievements by acknowledging them. It is this that turns my gratitude into motivation.
As part of my daily ritual:
I remember the pride of holding my son in my arms for the first time. I relive the experience of walking into the most popular book store in my home country to not only see my book on display, but to also have customers ask me to sign it. I also think back to the wonderful morning in June 2006 when I checked out of a rehab here in Thailand knowing that I’d never drink alcohol again.
I probably spend less than a minute thinking of all these wonderful things in my life, but it really gets my juices going.
Next I turn my attention to the future:
I picture how great it is going to feel to be financially secure – the peace of mind of knowing that I’m taking care of my family. I also think about the satisfaction I’m going to get from being successful in my career – the pride of knowing that I’m doing everything in my power to reach my potential.
I’ve always tended to aim low in life. I remember during my nursing training, I’d only ever do enough on my assignments to pass. I didn’t want to try to my best at anything in case I failed – failure is much easier to cope with when you know you could have done better.
I perform this ritual twice a day to increase my motivation. For the first time in my life I’m going to give 100 per cent. Not because I’m ungrateful for the things in my life right now but because pushing my limits is one of the most satisfying things I’ve ever done.
Gratitude to Beat Stress
My life up until recently has been full and stress and worry – I’ve been like a beggar with a ‘feed me’ sign who doesn’t see that he is sitting on a mountain of gold. My inability to appreciate all the good in my life has meant that I haven’t been able really enjoy anything – no wonder I get stressed and depressed.
If you are feeling too much stress in your life, could it be due to lack of gratitude? The truth is that no matter how bad things get, there is always stuff to feel grateful for – you know the old saying, every day above ground is a good day.