There are just some days—many days—I cannot turn on the TV, and I work in journalism, and for sure, I can’t embrace gratitude. But, truthfully, I do power up, and on drones the constant upsetting commentary about war in the Middle East, the latest mass shooting—when did we get to a place where the adjective “latest” became normal?—and about certain politicians whose complete disregard for truth, respect, kindness, and peace continues to baffle many of us. When did it become normal, when engaged in media, to incite violence against others? When did it become normal to be cruel to each other, and to helpless creatures?
Let’s count backwards. I’d say it was about seven years ago for the radical outward change in U.S. culture, but wars: They’ve been happening since the dawn of mankind.
Then there’s the issue of climate change, with a warming planet showing signs of imminent demise if we don’t change our ways—which we can’t if our politicians continue to be swayed more by financial contributions from special interests, such as lobbyists, than the interests and needs, like survival, of all of us who inhabit Mother Earth. The environmental clock is ticking.
As mature “women of experience,” we’ve seen a lot we didn’t want to see, but if we look around there’s still so much to bring us joy. Let’s not let it be drowned out.
Gratitude Changes Everything
And here we are in late 2023. So much has changed, but nothing has changed, and I can’t help but wonder what our ancestors—heck, our grandparents—would think about what we’re doing to each other now. In 2003, Robert Emmons was one of the first to document the wonderfulness of gratitude in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology.
I can wonder, but I can’t change so much, nor can you. So, what can we do? Let’s try these tips, and yes, some may seem mundane and unoriginal, but maybe they work for you and me?.
*Understand you can’t control everything, and sometimes, much of anything.
So here you and we are. Experts say that stewing about our lack of control makes us even more anxious, and I’d agree. Let’s make a pledge to say, “OK, that is really bad, and it really upsets me,” and to acknowledge that there was absolutely, positively nothing we could have done about it. And that is a lot to acknowledge.
There are lots of ways to do this, including these:
a) Be thankful. Research shows that when we do, we naturally become more optimistic. Say “Thank you” when someone does something for you, and if you stop to count, that can be many times in a day. If that person isn’t present, think about them and say “Thank you” in your own head. Now you’re “giving” of yourself.
b) Write it down: I can see you yawn here. Yep, it’s that journaling thing back again. Write down the things you are grateful for. That list may be longer than you think. This really helps embrace gratitude. And write letters of thanks, researches say, for that also helps you embrace gratitude. (Dear blog reader. THANK YOU for being here!)
c) Count those blessings: Just look around. For me, it’s the love and loyalty my cats give me, so unconditionally, right? And they make me laugh when they fetch, or smile when they groom each other like loving family. Never a dull moment, for sure. My lady friends who have children, I know (sometimes) they make you feel the same.
Especially if you think about “the bad times” and compare them to the joys of your life now, it’s easier to be grateful.
d) Meditate: Have you tried it? I’m such a novice, who can only sit and “think of nothing” for about 30 seconds. That is hard! But this mindfulness thing has plenty of science backing it. These examples from the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health further illustrate that meditation may:
*Reduce blood pressure. (Talking to myself here).
*Reduce stress, anxiety and depression.
*Help mediate pain.
*Improve sleep and sleep quality.
*Reduce symptoms of post-traumatic sleep disorder.
*Manager eating-related behaviors and lose weight.
I like to meditate by just thinking of the present moment, and not the past or future. And that, my lady friends, is easier said than done.
e) Think before you speak.
Watch the language you use, and avoid being pessimistic, negative, or critical. That can be a persistent “downer” and it’s easy to fall into that groove.
I know. It seems so obvious, but do it, and you’ll feel different instantly.
There’s more and more of what we don’t want to know is going on in our world. It doesn’t seem to be lessening. It’s up to us to build that impermeable bubble around us and work hard to only let the good get in.
Let me know how you’re doing, OK? I’ll do the same, as we both try harder to embrace gratitude.
By the way, I wrote earlier about showing kindness. It’s a good partner to this gratitude thing.