Watching the “Hope for Haiti” broadcast Friday, January 22nd, I couldn’t help but realize how very blessed I am-how blessed we all are to have food, clean water, shelter, and our loved ones around us. Sometimes it takes tragedies like these for us to realize that all the little things we worry about, complain about, and stress about aren’t really that important. We have what we need. And so much more.
Did you know that after September 11, 2001, researchers noted a surge in feelings of gratitude? Such feelings help us better manage the negative effects of stress. In fact, gratefulness can do a lot for our health. Robert Emmons, author of Thanks!: How the New Science of Gratitude Can Make You Happier, reports in his book on several studies that he and his colleagues have conducted at the University of California at Davis.
In two, they found that people who regularly wrote down the things they were grateful for were more optimistic about the future, and reported fewer health problems than those that didn’t. Another study found that even people suffering from disease-including post-polio syndrome-got more sleep, felt more refreshed in the morning, and felt more optimistic about the future when they wrote in daily gratitude journals.
Naren, who runs the website “Spiritual Pub,” writes, “This feeling of gratefulness that rises from the innermost core of your being is the truest prayer.” Melodie Beattie, author of CoDependent No More, says, “Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. It turns what we have into enough, and more.” And mind/body healer Dr. Darryl Pokea says, “When our minds are resonating with gratitude, the gate is fully opened to the flow of prosperity.”
When we’re going through challenges like cancer, remembering what we have to be grateful for becomes even more important to our health, our outlook, and our chances of survival. I encourage you to start a journal of gratefulness, like I have, and inside it, write about the things you’re thankful for. Try doing it at the same time every day, like first thing in the morning or right before bed, and see if you don’t notice some positive benefits in your life. If you’ve had a particularly difficult day, start with the very elementary things. I’m grateful for my mother on those days, for instance, or my husband. On the days we feel particularly weak, we can be grateful for the bed that holds us off the floor, and the pillows that cradle our heads.
Here are 10 things that I feel grateful for right now. In sharing these, I hope I can inspire you to say a gratitude prayer or journal about your blessings every day. It only takes a few minutes. I’m amazed at how much more comes into my life when I start my day with an open heart, feeling thankful for what I have, rather than focusing on what I don’t have. It’s interesting how once I get started, I can keep going and going! There are so many miracles around us every day that we miss most of the time because we don’t take a few moments to reflect on all the good that comes our way.
- I am grateful that I woke up; today is truly a gift, not to be taken for granted.
- I am grateful for the hot shower I get to take every day that makes my muscles and my mind relax.
- I am grateful for the clean, nourishing food that I am about to eat.
- I am grateful for the sunshine that came out this afternoon, which reminds me that there is always a light at the end of the tunnel.
- I am grateful for that my husband accepts me exactly as I am.
- I am grateful that I have been cancer-free for 18 years.
- I am grateful for my father’s spirit, who reminds me everyday to go after my dreams relentlessly.
- I am grateful for this morning’s rain which cleaned the New York streets.
- I am grateful for my computer and printer which allow me to do my daily work.
- I am grateful for my couch, which keeps me cozy when I need to unwind and relax.
Have you written about what you’re grateful for today? Please share your thoughts.