I keep a jar like this on my bedside table and fill it up with thankful notes every chance I get. Some use a journal to do this and there are a million tools out there to help you cultivate and focus on things you are thankful for. Whether it's journaling, yoga, or a morning walk, shifting your attention to gratitude can make a world of difference in your outlook.
For example, a few years ago I had to have ear surgery. While it was relatively minor in the grand scheme of things, and many have so much more to bear, to me, it felt major. I had never had surgery and I found myself almost immediately caught up thinking about the "what ifs". What if I had a dairy allergy that caused all of my ear infections, what if I had just had allergy testing? Would that have prevented the need to have surgery?" And on and on. As I was going through the myriad of appointments, I of course, found myself caught up in the 'why me?' narrative. While that's perfectly normal, it started to make me more and more anxious. I knew that, regardless of how I could have prevented the surgery, it had to happen, and I had pretty much no control over the situation, so I went searching for ways to shift my perspective.
I decided to keep a small notebook with me during my 4 hour drives back and forth to Stanford. While I was in the waiting room, or just waiting in general, if I found myself feeling anxious or negative, I'd spend five minutes and jot down 5-10 things I was grateful for about the situation. I still have those notes - they read something like this: "thankful for western medicine", "thankful for health insurance", "thankful I have the resources to go to Stanford with amazing, caring doctors", "grateful I'm being taken good care of by this team". Simple, yes, and super powerful.
This time of year, with the holidays right around the corner, it's so easy to get swept up in negative or anxious thinking. So let this idea settle in: you do have power over your thoughts and where you put your energy. Choose gratitude. Choose to be thankful.
Over the next few weeks, I challenge you to write down one or two things every day you are grateful for, put them in a journal or a mason jar like I do, and read through them with a friend, with family, with someone you care about. Better yet, read through them at Thanksgiving and ask others to do the same. Follow my journey on social too - I'll be posting daily too. I can't imagine a better way to celebrate giving thanks.
- With gratitude, Erika