Gratitude is an important theme in my new found Heart Math tools. Literature from scientific studies shows that gratitude is one of the most powerful of the positive emotions that we can experience. I used to think that gratitude was a thing. Now and then it would be expressed, most often as a polite thing to be offered to someone else. I have very much changed my tune. More and more people have discussed, shared about gratitude in discussions, inspirational slides/posts on FaceBook or in other ways. After this last week, I have come to the conclusion that gratitude is a way of life. It’s no longer a brief thing to be offered to others but a life-saving way to improve my mental health by reducing anxiety, resentment and cortisol levels. I’ll admit that while being bogged down by negative thoughts or emotions, it can be a challenge to find something to be grateful. Where do I start when that happens? I start with being grateful for the luxury of being able to wallow in petty, selfish hurts and that I don’t have to hike miles for clean water. That usually leads to being grateful for living in a first world country with first world problems. My family is blessed to have health insurance, necessary medications and the income to afford them. I can afford groceries, even name brand if I want, and gas money and housing costs. Usually, at this point, my heart has swelled to the point where individual words or things that I am grateful for, all run together and I am filled with God’s light and love and I want to proclaim how amazing He is for all the world to hear. I have God, praise Him, and it all begins with him. This week ended without many of the things I brought into it. I am no longer quick to answer, resentful, overwhelmed or anxious. The hormone cortisol that comes with those negative emotions, is much rarer now too and I feel better rested and no longer depressed. Dare I say? I am happy, optimistic, positive and energetic? Yes, all of these changes within the span of less than a week? Why? I was miserable and needed a change. My bad moods and darkness was hurting myself and also my family. Instead of being frustrated with them, I am living in the place of gratitude that reminds me of how much happened in my life to bring these three precious people into my life. The Lord blessed me at 20 with Preston because He knew that we would need each other and be a dynamic duo. AJ, bless his heart, chose to love me. He took me on with all my baggage and after 11 trying years has helped me unpack most of it. I never knew that there would be a person in my life that could make me feel so special, safe and valued. Again, God brought the only man for me, into my life, and lifted the veil of misery from my lonely life, long enough for me to see him. I said something early on in our relationship that was hurtful at the time, but makes more sense now. I told him that I didn’t just marry him for who and what he was at the time but for his potential. As backwards and clumsy a statement as it was, it was true. Partially I was marrying his potential because I had so far to grow. We’ve faced many challenges as a couple and I am so fortunate that he hung in there with me. Logan. The baby. My younger son who offers his sweet hugs and unwavering support on my journey to be braver, stronger and more self assured. In his ten years, he has brought out a softer side of me that no one else ever has. He has torn down walls and healed much of my touch-me-not nature. I could leave all other blessings off the list of things I am grateful for and just those three and the list of the positive impact they have had on my life could carry me through to the end of time.
I know that many other people in my life found a life of gratitude before I did, and I appreciate them, especially my moms, Sharon and Caroline and my dad, Dad, for modeling this way of life for me. Life is what we make of us. Each and everyone of us has the choice to choose on our own focus and path. I’ve left darkness behind me, and while it will come and go, I will live my life with the intention that I will be gratitude. Thanks for reading. Love, Rebecca