My late-Father suffered from clinical depression and it can be debilitating. Although I had plenty of patience and empathy with my Dad, I also used to get frustrated that he couldn’t see the positives in life. Today would have been his 70th birthday. He passed away nearly ten years ago and I believe his depression shortened his life. I have seen the effect of severe depression and I know how hard it is to be grateful when you are in a dark place in your life.
I’ve never been diagnosed with depression, but over the years I have suffered with low moods. As I get older I am trying to become more resilient and look after my mental health more. I am determined to try and be positive in my own life. I find that taking a moment to think about all the things I’m grateful for helps alot. I have been scribbling down gratitude lists and pinning them to the fridge for a while now. I find it makes me more optimistic, less self-centred, less materialistic and generally happier. So, inspired by my daughter and husband’s positive outlook on life, I’m going to write a gratitude list…
I am grateful for…
1) …having the opportunity to become a Mum. Our daughter means the world to us. She makes me look outwards instead of inwards. She is fun, creative, caring and loving…I drink it all in and we have a blast together. She is also, like most children, grateful for the little things. She gets excited about having her favourite meal, making a tent with a blanket, watering the plants at the allotment and opening a new packet of felt tip pens. Her eyes light up at the thought of riding on her scooter, eating cake or seeing her cousins. As adults we get weighed down with hang-ups all too soon. Sometimes embracing the childlike appreciation of simple pleasures can help us to be more grateful for what we have.
2) …my Husband. After nearly twenty years together it is very easy to start taking each other for granted. I am guilty of this, and I’m sure he is too. But when I look at his “I love Life” picture and I remeber how upbeat he is. When he gave blood a few years ago, it came as no surprise that his blood type is “B Positive”. He’s happy in his own skin, not materialistic, caring and able to laugh at himself. In fact, his ability to laugh at himself is one of his best qualities. I think being able to poke fun at yourself is often a sign of a good sense of humour and an optimistic personality. At the grand old age of 48, he seems to be really content. Living with someone like this helps to balance out my pessimism and tendancy to worry. When I’ve been at my lowest points, he has been there to pull me back out. I’m very grateful for that.
3) …hugs. I love hugs from my daughter, my husband, my Mum and my friends. I think we forget how important physical contact from loved ones can be. I always remember a couple of years ago when my late-Grandmother was at our home for a meal. For some reason we were talking about hugging. My Gran piped up: “I don’t have anyone at home to cuddle me”. As a lady who had lived on her own for nearly fifty years, it reminded me how she must miss the simple pleasure of a hug. Of course we all gave her a big cuddle. I think getting lots of hugs means you aren’t lonely and that is something to be grateful for.
4) …my health. I had a health scare last year. The three weeks it took from going to my GP and being given the all clear were probably the longest of my life. I’m doubly grateful that I live in a country where it only takes three weeks to be seen by a consultant. When I was given the all clear, I decided there and then that I would be more appreciative of my life. It can so easily be taken away from you.
5)…the cup of tea bought to me in bed every morning. It sounds really trivial, but it isn’t. It means I have someone in my life who cares about me.
I know it can be hard to show gratitude at times, but if you have a moment, take the time to write down a list of things you're grateful for. Even if it's just the light shining through the windows, the cat purring on your lap or the music on the radio, it all helps us to feel alive. And that is definitely something to be grateful for.
“Piglet noticed that even though he had a Very Small Heart, it could hold a rather large amount of Gratitude.” ― A.A. Milne, Winnie-the-Pooh
Just some of the online articles discussing the positive effects of gratitude:
20 Quotes That Remind Us Why It’s So Important To Laugh at yourself
Magic Moments over on theoliversmadhouse.co.uk