When my husband of 25 years decided to leave me and our three children to start a new life with another woman, I probably would have slapped someone if they had told me that an “attitude of gratitude” was the remedy to my anguish and despair.
I felt like my entire life had just been unfairly ripped away from me and I was left in a living hell because of his selfish actions.
Why would I rack my brain for reasons to be thankful about a divorce I didn’t want and give him the easy way out?
And for a while, it actually felt kind of good to allow myself to dwell in my misery. But after a few months of tossing and turning on tear stained pillows and mothering my children on autopilot, I realised that I was the one missing out.
I wanted to feel good again and I was finally willing to let go of “being right.” If practicing gratitude was a possible first step towards finding my own happiness, then I had no reason not to try it.
The Power of Gratitude Works in Many Profound Ways
I soon realised that no matter how bad life can get, there is always something to be grateful for.
My health, my children, the tree outside my window, the food that nourishes me, the people who love me and care about me…
Choosing to be grateful immediately helped to relieve my anxiety and fears. I could bypass the negative judgments and false beliefs trying to convince me that I was doomed.
There is even scientific research showing how the practice of gratitude is integral to healing pain from the past and promoting well being and happiness on a daily basis.
It works in the following ways:
Feeling gratitude is good for your heart.
Studies have found that being in a state of gratitude actually shifts our heart into a healthier rhythm (or heart rate variability).
Focusing on the positive rewires your brain.
By simply counting our blessings, we can shift which part of our brain is in charge and immediately change our perspective.
Gratitude lifts us out of our mind’s negative state of anxiety, worry and dread to a positive state of calm, connectedness and hopefulness.
Gratitude programmes our subconscious to create more of what we’re appreciating at the time.
When we focus on what makes us feel good in the present, our mind holds on to that “picture” and we begin to act from those positive thoughts.
Our positive actions create more positive energy in our surroundings and directly affects how the universe responds to us.
3 Daily Practices of Gratitude
These three simple steps of gratitude will take you miles along your path towards healing and happiness:
1.) Take inventory of your blessings throughout your day. The morning breeze you wake up to, the sound of your child’s voice, the nourishing meals you have together as a family…the list is endless.
This practice of gratitude is especially important in these challenging and difficult times. It gives you the strength and hope to move forward and to keep on striving for better days ahead.
2.) Yes, make that list of the reasons you are grateful your marriage ended. This isn’t a space to rehash all the things you hate about your ex but rather a place to focus on the positive aspects of your new life so you can start to embrace it.
The benefits may range from you sleeping better without his snoring or the freedom to be reconnecting with old friends or even that the divorce has allowed you to learn new things about yourself…
3.) Express your gratitude to others.
Once you get in the habit of reminding yourself about all the gifts and blessings in your own life, expressing gratitude towards others can magnify your feelings of happiness and greatly improve your relationships.
Look for opportunities each day to give thanks to others. This can be as simple as leaving a “thank you” note for your mailman, calling up that friend just to say how much you appreciate her or giving your child a huge hug just to tell them how great you think they are.