Thursday, January 16, 2014

How Being Grateful Can Save Your Life

“I am grateful…” is a phrase that most of us could stand to say more often. In November, my Facebook news feed exploded with a number of friends’ status updates each day telling the world what they were grateful for. Topics ranged from significant others, children, and jobs to lazy afternoons, pets, and a good view from the front window. And while many rolled their eyes at this “forced” gratefulness, I embraced it. I loved seeing my loved ones actually take a moment to notice beauty in their lives. Because, let’s face it, it’s far too easy to get set on autopilot and forget about all the great things around us.
Start each day with a grateful heart
Start each day with a grateful heart -- words to live by.

And sometimes, it’s okay to force gratitude in ourselves. Not the angry “You must be grateful for this!” kind of gratitude—the reflecting on our lives and reminding ourselves of what’s good.

When I was down and out in college, my then-boyfriend used to say to me, “Tell me one good thing that happened to you today.” It was such a simple request, but truly profound. Because you know what? If I allowed myself a moment to think about it, I could always find good in a day—even if it was as simple a thing as a stranger smiling at me as I passed them on campus. 

Have you heard the recent stories going around about a woman named Lynne Scrivens? She is truly inspiring—and a wonderful example of how simply being grateful can save your life. Beginning on January 1st, 2013, Lynne vowed to post daily gratitude updates on her social media for one year.

Lynne felt she was off track in her life, and wanted to do something to resolve the challenges she was facing, including too much drinking alone, depression, being sedentary, and finding a romantic partner.

be grateful
Take notice; we have a lot to be grateful for.
“When I saw a friend posting daily Grateful status updates on Facebook, I though I should do it too,” she wrote in a recent essay on Daily Life. “I knew the grateful project would help me get back on track. I just had a feeling.”

Fast forward to one year (and a few weeks later), and Lynne’s challenges have turned into blessings: drinking was replaced by sobriety; depression faded and was replaced by happiness; instead of being sedentary, she started going to regular boot camp classes; and loneliness took a back seat to a new love interest. Plus, as a bonus, Lynne left an old and stagnant career behind in Sydney and moved to Melbourne for a new job.

Her last post was, as always, inspiring:

“I’m grateful for this project. I’m grateful for my friends for tolerating it. It’s amazing how long I spent each day thinking about what I was grateful for,” she wrote. “Did it make a difference? Yes. It forced me to look on the bright side of life, even on the crappy days… and I’m heading into 2014 with a great big smile, and for that I’m eternally grateful.”

So tell me, what is one thing you are grateful for today?