Hello and welcome back to another episode of the women and Medicine badass radio show. So I am absolutely grateful to be back for episode 28 of the show and to talk to you today about gratitude.
So gratitude is really about the attitude that you have about things, hence the expression “an attitude of gratitude.” One thing I’ve noticed recently is that we become grateful for things after they’ve been taken away and reintroduced into our lives. And the most recent experience of this that I can think of is covid. So when covid happened all kinds of things went away. These are things that we were taking for granted, things that we were used to having all the time that maybe we weren’t even thinking about, maybe we weren’t grateful for because they were so ordinary, things like having our kids go off to school or being able to work in our regular setting, being able to get on public transportation or go to the movies, sit at a restaurant, hug a friend. All of these things are such ordinary day-to-day things but then they got taken away unexpectedly and it was really a completely new experience for all of us. And then as things started to come back where we became vaccinated and things started to open up and we didn’t have to quarantine anymore, one of the things I noticed is that I started to become really grateful for all of these really ordinary things, those day-to-day things that we have in our lives that maybe we either didn’t notice before or we weren’t really grateful for.
One specific example for me was my kids. I remember really feeling at some points kind of irritated about the fact that I had to go drop them off at school and pick them up every single day. It just felt like another thing I had to do.
But let me tell you that as a result of covid and the kids being home every single day all day long for so many months, I was so excited to finally drop them off at school once schools opened up. So it’s these little things that we really take for granted that are there all along and when we don’t have this appreciation for them we sometimes can feel like there isn’t much to be grateful for in our lives.
It’s kind of like with our health. We only tend to feel really grateful for our health when something goes wrong and then we recover, or if we have an accident let’s say and we’ve only broken a little thing or we had a minor scratch and then we are so grateful to be alive or we’re so grateful to be unharmed.
One of the things that I think is so powerful to really take away from this experience is that we have so much to be grateful for and really it would serve us to notice these little things every single day rather than wait for them to be taken away or for some catastrophe to happen for us to really appreciate what we have. The other thing that I want to share with you is that in addition to gratitude being as we said an attitude, it’s also a focus of mind, and here’s what I mean by that. Our brain can really only focus on one thing at a time. So if you are focused on problems in your life, if you are focused on lack or scarcity, then you are not going to feel very gratefu;. If you are feeling depressed about something that’s happened in the past or are fearful of not having enough moving forward, all of these are ways in which your mind is focusing on things that are going to take that joy out of your life. And so be really mindful about this and one really great way to get your brain to really refocus in a way on the things that you have going for you is to make this a practice.
Now some people wake up in the morning and to just start the day by focusing on some things that they have in their lives to be grateful for. This can include your health. If you wake up in the morning and you have your partner next to you or you have healthy children or you have a job to go to or a beautiful roof over your head, these are all the little things that we take for granted each and every day that we can be grateful for. And when you wake up in the morning and you take note of these things, it can set the mood for the rest of your day. So that’s one great way to get into the practice of things.
Another way that people practice this is they say grace right before meal. Now grace doesn’t have to be a religious practice. It can be something that you’re grateful for. Now some families will go around and they will each share one thing that they’re grateful for from that day, something that happened that day that they can bring their attention to and share with other people. So it could be that your daughter got a good grade on her test or that your son got to play basketball at school with his best friend or that you had a stranger pay your toll on your way to work. Any of these kinds of things are things that you can bring to the table at a meal.
And lastly, it can be something that you do at the end of each day where you can maybe journal about things that have happened so that you can keep a collection of these. And what happens is when you get into the practice of doing this every single day, your mind is going to start actually looking for those things because you know that it is coming up. You know that you have to put something down on paper at the end of that day, so you’re going to start to really be more mindful and scan your environment to constantly be on the lookout for what is it that I’m going to put down on paper later tonight.
So again you can practice gratitude first thing when you wake up. You can use it as something to bring your family together in a positive way at the table when you’re having a meal. Rr you can do it on your own, write it down to reflect on your day after the day has passed.
So you have three different ways that you can really take this practice and bring it to the forefront, really refocus your mind on all of the things that are going well in your life and develop that attitude of gratitude.
I hope that you really take this to heart and try this for the next 7 days at least so that you can really see how this can affect you and I promise you — there’s been so much research on this practice that it really has a profound influence on people’s moods, on their well-being — physical, cognitive, emotional, you name it. It really has such a profound impact, so really give it a shot and notice how you feel at the end of it. And I hope that you leave me a comment after you’ve tried this to share your experiences with me.And I will see you again next week. Take care.