I was writing in my diary this morning and was thinking about all the things I have to be grateful for. As I am coming up to the 29th year since my first cancer diagnosis and 17th year since my second, I realise I am so blessed. Last year both my eldest daughter Sarah and my son Richard celebrated their weddings, little did I ever think that I would live to see those wonderful days. There is a picture of myself and Sarah in 1988 in the garden on the day I was diagnosed with lymphatic cancer. I was 33 years old at the time. She was sitting in my arms, and I wondered on that very poignant day in my life would I live to see her grow up and on the day of her wedding I was overwhelmed with gratitude thinking back to how I felt that day and where my life is now. (I searched high and low for the picture to add to the blog, but it’s gone walk-about!) Gratitude is a very positive emotion, which is really important because it serves a deeper psychological purpose in leading us toward a happier, more joyful and more fulfilling life. We often take for granted what we receive on a regular basis. With a myriad of responsibilities,that we face daily, such as long working hours combined with the demands of family, these can all take their toll on general wellbeing. From the perspective of psychology, it can be said that gratitude allows for positive acknowledgement, which has been shown to protect against stress and depression. I am a firm believer in concentrating on the blessings in your life and you will always end up with more. I’m sure a lot of you have read the best-selling book “The Secret” which outlines the power of the law of attraction and how by concentrating on what you already have as well as what your goals are you will live in abundance. A great way to do this is to keep a gratitude journal. Oprah is a great believer in gratitude journaling, and her philosophy is that she sits at the end of each day and writes down five things she is grateful for before she goes asleep. I have been doing this for years, and it has had such a positive effect on my life. Instead of going to sleep thinking about the stresses that may lay ahead of me the next day or worrying about something that is troubling me I drift off with my thoughts diverted to the things I am most grateful for and all the blessings I have in my life. It has even improved the quality of my sleep as I don’t lay awake tossing and turning and concentrating on negativity. Keeping a gratitude journal on an on-going basis can build confidence; we all underestimate the good in our lives, so writing down such positive affirmations increases your self-esteem. Set aside a few moments for you at the end of your day. Many of my readers keep gratitude journals and find it a useful tool to express, appreciate and reinforce the good things they have in their lives. The benefit of this exercise is it sends you to bed concentrating on what is going right in your life rather than concentrating on your problems and worries, which a lot of people are guilty of. If you are more tech savvy and the thought of putting pen to paper is not appealing there are some great gratitude journal apps for your smartphone which is a great way of always having your journal with you if you think of something throughout the day or need a reminder of what you were grateful for the day before at a particularly stressful time. So why don’t you try it! Appreciate yourself and the good things that surround you. Nurture the things that matter, like the people in your life, the things that bring you joy. Make a list each day of 5 things you are grateful for. Today my list is;
- I had a lovely lunch with my dear friend Grace. I am so grateful for our friendship.
- I spoke at length to a young mother who was diagnosed with cancer. She finished our conversation by saying our chat really helped and motivated her to look after her health. It was a privilege to help this brave young woman.
- I visited my beautiful granddaughter Ella, and we played together. Spending time with her is one of the biggest joys in my life.
- I went to yoga with my youngest girl Julie. She is great fun to be with, I treasure these moments I share with her.
- I enjoyed a lovely hot bath. Sometimes it’s the simple things in life.