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NewPath Therapy Blog | Choosing Gratefulness

Choosing Gratefulness

By Melanie Ayres, LPC, LPA

Choosing Gratefulness

By Melanie Ayres, LPC, LPA

Holidays can sometimes make gratefulness difficult.

The holidays are a time of love and excitement, family and friends, happiness and joy. There are so many fun and festive things to do, and memories to be made; however for some, the holidays can lead to feelings of sadness, worry, and stress. When trying to plan for extended family, cooking all the food, or struggling with feelings of grief for loved ones who are no longer with us, things can get a little tense. It is during these times that gratefulness becomes necessary. Oftentimes we can become so caught up in all of the chaos that we forget to pay attention to what is good. Believe me, even in the midst of the turmoil, there is always something to be grateful for.

Feelings are often derived from our thoughts. Whatever thought is going through your mind, you can expect that the feeling brought about by that thought usually dictates your mood. Feelings can be very strong and often our actions are a direct result of them. By refreshing your thoughts, even in the slightest way, you can begin to change your feelings and behaviors. Whatever you are thinking about, that is where your mood will come from.

What it means to be grateful:

Being grateful does not mean expressing joy or happiness, especially when we are not feeling those emotions. Saying you are grateful for something is simply a statement, an acknowledgement. It is taking control back from your thoughts by shifting your focus to where you want it to be. If you do not want to be worried any longer, then begin to recognize the things around you that you are grateful for. It is amazing how quickly your mood and feelings can change when they are directed in the right way.

It is so easy to notice the difficult things – sadness, loss, anxiety, worry, financial concerns. While those things do exist and shape our lives, it is important to take a step back and recognize the things that we should be grateful for, a renewing of the mind so to speak. It is important to be mindful of our thoughts. Think about what you are thinking about. Is it something sad that makes you feel pain? Or is it something more uplifting that allows you to recognize that there is good in your life, even though it may not feel that way sometimes?

A mom and dad holding their child while he puts an ornament on the Christmas tree

How to be grateful:

Regardless of all the negative things we may be experiencing, there is always something to be grateful for. Being grateful does not always have to include the common things such as health, family, and friends. Gratefulness can also be found in the small things. Even if it is simply being able to get out of bed in the morning. The little things matter and it is important to remember that as we shift our focus to more positive aspects of our lives. Take a moment each day to write down 1-3 things you are grateful for. I bet that if you think hard enough you can come up with more than that! You can even keep a page in your notes app on your phone so that you can immediately jot them down. Maybe your 30 minute wait at a restaurant was only 10 minutes – grateful. Maybe you missed rush hour traffic on your way home – grateful. Perhaps you received a shipping notice on an item that you have been waiting to come back in stock – grateful.

By starting each day on a mission to find things to be grateful for, it will allow you to begin to intentionally change your focus onto more positive aspects of your life. Staying weighted down with the negative can become heavy and dark. It can make you feel as though you cannot move forward, like you are stuck on a hamster wheel. Find the light of the positive. By focusing on the right things you will begin to feel your load lighten. Say what you are grateful for out loud. It will help to bring awareness of your acknowledgement more public, even if you are home alone when you make it. Make it a game to find things to be grateful for throughout the day. If you are faced with a very difficult situation that is only bringing about negative and unhealthy thoughts, then make it your goal to find the silver lining.

Decisions are not based on feelings; they are made in the moment. You can move forward regardless of how you feel because you have made the decision to do so. You are in control of your movement and where you will go. Make the choice to be in charge of your day and your thoughts. You have the power to determine how your day will end, no matter how it started. Choose light. Choose positive focus. Choose gratefulness.