I feel like my title makes the perfect opening line for this blog post and I thought, “Why mess with perfection?”
Do you know what’s great?
Gratitude. Gratitude is great.
Seriously, I’m not kidding. My therapist brought up gratitude about a month ago. She was talking about how recognizing and acknowledging things we are grateful for can actually help to improve our mood or outlook a bit. Let me be clear. I am not saying that if you practice gratitude then your depression or mental illness will suddenly be “all better.” Don’t make me laugh. If it was that simple, there would be not a single person on the planet suffering from depression! No one wants to feel miserable, in agony, or despondent or hopeless or any of the things that are saddled with depression. (Okay, rant over.)
What I am saying is that there is a certain degree of power that self-talk and other things have over us. It can definitely make us feel worse, so doesn’t it stand to reason that it may be able to help us a little bit too?
As I was saying, my therapist mentioned it about a month ago. She wanted me to start practicing it, as part of my daily diary cards, every day. Recognize one thing that I am grateful for every day.
Some days it seemed impossible and I left the space blank. On other days I realized I had 2, 3, or 4 things I was grateful for. They ranged from being grateful I was able to spend time with my dad to being grateful that I was able to take a shower that day. The littlest things counted!
Do you know what I’ve noticed? I’ve found that I don’t even have to wait until I’m filling out my diary card for therapy to recognize gratitude. I just finished reading an email in which a friend told me that a card I sent them was possibly the best they’d ever gotten and that I was a good friend. Reading their comment, I broke out into the goofiest looking grin. I was so happy. And then I had the following thoughts: “I’m so grateful she’s my friend” and “I’m so grateful that I made her happy and that her comment is making me happy.”
Guys. The gratitude just became automatic. It just came to me. And it made me feel great. It was like a little spark of warmth in the cold and dark reality that my days have been lately. In that moment I didn’t feel depressed or withdrawn, apathetic or detached. I felt appreciated and I felt connected.
So here’s my challenge to you:
Every day for the next week try to pick out one thing that you are grateful for that day. Say it out loud to yourself or write it down somewhere.
I’m not saying it will change your life, but it may just bring a spark of light in the darkness.