Gratitude: when last did you give thanks?

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Earlier in the year, I was working with a business coach and at one of our sessions she asked me to write down a list of the 50 things that I am grateful for. Needless to say, I gave her that "you must be joking???" look – you know the one. It's hard enough to think of three things to be grateful for on any given day; on the really bad days, I can think of one (coffee!), so how was I meant to get to 50!? The exercise itself took months to complete … I started off fine, but getting to 50 took a long time.

Our tendency is to focus on the negative; our brain is wired that way – psychologists call it negative bias1. And is it any wonder? On a daily basis we are inundated with negative news, it feels like we're on a constant hamster wheel and life in general feels a lot harder than it should be. 'Negative' has become the norm, the accepted. So, trying to think of things to be grateful for, especially when you're having a bad day, week or month, is no easy feat.

It's during these times, though, that we need to be purposeful in finding things to be grateful for. When it feels like the world has completely gone mad; when we start to question humanity, and when it feels like our lives are falling apart – that's when we need to count our blessings. Research tells us that the daily practice of giving gratitude has a positive impact, not only on our mood, but also on our health – it is said to reduce stress levels and feelings of depression, and result in better sleep, amongst other benefits.

Personally, I know the effect that negative thoughts can have on my health and on my mood. So every night, before he goes to sleep, I lie next to my 5-year-old and we spend a few minutes talking about what we want to say 'thank you' for. His are so pure: "I want to say thank you for fetching me early today; for art; for scoring a goal in the top right corner; for you, dad, Phia and Michael …" He's getting there :). It's a practice worth cultivating, I believe, and puts things into perspective.

Here is my list of 50 (in no particular order (except for the first 3 :) )

1) my health
2) my husband
3) my children
4) our house
5) my work … that I can work
6) my parents
7) my siblings
8) my extended family
9) my 'heart' friends … sisters from the heart
10) waking up every day with something to do i.e. raising 3 beautiful children, being a wife, going to work
11) massages
12) facials
13) our beautiful garden
14) my husband's love for me
15) Sophia's smile and excitement when she sees me
16) Alex's love for me
17) Michael's love for me
18) Being able to watch my children grow, learn and develop
19) BOOKS and magazines
20) the Kindle app
21) my thirst for knowledge – not accepting complacency
22) my drive to find meaning in what I do
23) the smell of rain / wet grass
24) (SEATTLE) COFFEE
25) Fresh flowers
26) doctors and modern medicine

27) dark Lindt chocolate
28) food and not having to worry where my next meal will come from
29) electricity
30) water
31) being a certified RenewYou facilitator – stepping out of my comfort zone
32) fresh air
33) stable monthly income
34) God looking after me and my family – keeping us safe
35) children's laughter
36) nature
37) my car – being able to drive wherever I need to go
38) music
39) learning new things
40) sleep (when I can get more than 4-5 hours)
41) the smell and feel of clean sheets on the bed 
42) my brain
43) pedicures
44) cooking (when I do)
45) great teachers and school for the children
46) Sherpa Kids aftercare and holiday club
47) amazing support for starting Purposeful Woman and network of people who want to help me succeed
48) independence
49) being born into the family, decade and country I was born into (considering how bad things are for a lot of women all over the world)
50) purpose 

What are you grateful for today, and could come up with a list of 50?

[If you're interested in reading more about the impact of gratitude, this article published in February 2017 has a number of interesting references to research on the subject.

1. Definition: The negativity bias is the tendency for humans to pay more attention, or give more weight to negative experiences over neutral or positive experiences. Even when negative experiences are inconsequential, humans tend to focus on the negative (Ref: https://www.nngroup.com/articles/negativity-bias-ux/ )

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