Living in the moment means letting go of the past and not waiting for the future. It means living out your life, consciously aware that each moment you breathe is a gift.” –Oprah Winfrey
Benefits of Practicing Gratitude
Part of why practicing intentional gratitude is so effective at improving our mood and outlook is that it causes us to live in the now. When we’re existing in the immediate moment—that is, in realizing things could be worse, and recalling the beauty and happiness we’ve experienced, we remove ourselves from the anticipation of what may go wrong in the future. Whether our bleak feelings come from an uncertain, hypothetical future, or from the belief of hard times ahead, living in the moment lets us focus on the sources of happiness we all have inside us.
Why You Should Keep a Journal
It is impossible to feel grateful and depressed
in the same moment.
–Naomi Williams, Body, Mind and Spirit
A 2006 study published in Behavior Research and Therapy found that Vietnam War Veterans with higher levels of gratitude experienced lower rates of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). A 2003 Journal of Personality and Social Psychology study found that gratitude contributed in a major way to resilience following the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. Counting our blessings fosters resilience.
An excellent way to practice gratitude is to keep a journal. Call it a gratitude journal. This isn’t an original idea, but it’s a good one. Not only does writing down reasons to be grateful help one to be present in the moment and forget about worries, it provides a record to look at later, perhaps in especially difficult moments when gratitude feels out of reach.
For those unaccustomed to putting pen to paper, getting started can be challenging, but once the ink and the gratitude begin to flow onto the page, it can be astonishing how immediate and rewarding this simple practice is. A few tips, perhaps?
1. Don’t wait for the “right time.”
It’s good to make gratitude journaling part of a relaxing bedtime routine, but if you experience something wonderful or remember something joyful, write it down. Doing this reinforces the good feeling you have in the moment. It also ensures you won’t forget it.
2. Examine the Why.
These are good, healthy feelings. Explore them. For example, instead of writing simply, “my kids,” write “my kids told me knock-knock jokes.” You may want to read these entries later, so be sure to record what, specifically, made you feel grateful. We guarantee that every time you read it, you’ll smile.
3. Focus on people, not things.
You may love your easy chair or your car, but these objects can never approach a human relationship in significance. If this exercise reveals your relationships to be lacking, you’ll have something to work on that will improve your life, and successes will provide more journal entries.
4. Take your time. Savor every moment. Be patient.
Thich Nhat Hanh wrote, “Drink your tea slowly and reverently, as if it is the axis on which the earth revolves – slowly, evenly, without rushing toward the future.” Look at writing in this way as well. That you have the ability to write about what makes you grateful is in itself a cause for gratitude.
Habits – especially good habits – take time to form. Don’t give up or decide too early that this gratitude thing isn’t working. Commit to three weeks, and take a few moments each day to focus on the things that make life beautiful.
5. Be creative.
This journal doesn’t have to be a list of lists. It’s whatever you want it to be. Paste in concert tickets, photos, flowers, or whatever gives you a grateful feeling. After all, the object is creating gratitude.
The Lung Health Institute is here to provide innovative, state-of-the-art treatment for your lung disease. We take time to get to know each and every patient, because each patient has their very own unique circumstances. If you’re looking for a better alternative to conventional hospital treatments and would like to learn more about how cellular therapy can help you regain your quality of life, please contact us at 888-745-6697. One of our patient coordinators will answer your questions.
Happy holidays from the Lung Health Institute.