When my husband was diagnosed with Stage 3 Melanoma, I will admit, it was a wake up call. I had been taking my life, my health (and his) for granted. I mean, we were (are) in the prime of our lives. We feel good. The kids are doing great. Jobs are good. We work out. Life is good! And then life threw a wrench into our plans, and I realized, “Wait, this isn’t the plan. This isn’t how I thought it would it be.”
Fortunately for us, we caught his Melanoma early. We were aggressive with his treatment. We left our hometown doctors and went to MD Anderson in Houston where skin cancer is a top priority. We are the lucky ones, but the experience changed us. I am much more cognizant of how very fortunate we are. I learned through that experience to appreciate and be thankful for our good health, the easiness of our lives.
Since that experience, I have practiced expressing gratitude on a daily basis. Being the writing teacher that I am, of course, I like to write down the things that I am thankful for. Sometimes it’s in my journal. Sometimes it might be on a sticky note. It doesn’t matter the medium. The point is to acknowledge the good in your life. And if you can find the good in each day, you will begin to be a happier, healthier person.
Here are some ways to cultivate gratitude on a daily basis.
Write a thank-you note. You can make yourself happier and nurture your relationships with other people by writing a thank-you letter expressing your enjoyment and appreciation of that person’s impact on your life. Send it, or better yet, deliver and read it in person if possible. Make a habit of sending at least one gratitude letter a month. Once in a while, write one to yourself.
Keep a gratitude journal. Make it a habit to write down or share with a loved one thoughts about the many positives in your life.
Count your blessings. Pick a time every week to sit down and write about your blessings — reflecting on what went right or what you are grateful for. Sometimes it helps to pick a number —I choose 3 each morning – and I write about why I am thankful for those three things. Be specific about who/what you are thankful for.
Pray. This is also a good way to express gratitude.
Meditate. Mindfulness meditation involves focusing on the present moment without judgment. Although people often focus on a word or phrase (such as “peace”), it is also possible to focus on what you’re grateful for (the warmth of the sun, a pleasant sound, etc.
Being grateful is a practice. Practice each day by paying attention to the good things, big or small, focus on the good, distance yourself from the “Negative Nellies”, and you will notice that you will start to become much happier and more thankful in all aspects of your life.