Practicing Gratitude and Defeating Negativity

Late last year, I found myself in a MAJOR funk. I experienced death and loss in a way which completely drained my soul of any semblance of peace. After months of forcing a smile and telling everyone around me that I was going to be ok, I reached my limit. It was Christmastime, and I found myself jaded at the concept of celebrating with my family—and that’s when I discovered something was amiss in my mind. See, because of extreme stress and emotional conflict, I had landed in the pit of depression. I didn’t want to spend time with my friends, I lacked motivation to get out of bed, my schoolwork was struggling, and I felt as if sleeping all day would take my problems away.

I saw my family doctor and tried really hard to snap out of it, but anyone who’s ever struggled with depression knows the only way to fight depression is to seek help and be patient. I was home from college for winter break, and I decided to do a simple Google search to see if I could find any fixes for my emotional turmoil (I know, very clinical). I stumbled upon this article and first read about the concept of “practicing gratitude.”

The basic idea is to take time each day (I usually do this at night before bed) to write down some things you’re thankful for. Sounds too easy, right? The items you write don’t even have to be anything philosophical or deep, simply things that made you thankful that day. For example, this is the first list I wrote on December 28, 2014:

journal

Thankful for:

Sleeping until noon, friends who want to see me, books I get lost in, technology, conversation I had with Hope, a pharmacy, and rest

BOOM! Then you’re done.

The exercise of racking your brain daily to find things in life to cherish does wonders toward defeating negativity. Whether you struggle with depression like I do, anxiety, or just feeling down, practicing gratitude has the potential to change your life. Since December, I’ve filled up about half of a leather journal (found here on amazon) with simple things I’m thankful for. I’ve noticed a real change in my outlook on life and overall mental stability.

So, if you’re reading this and not feeling your best, take the next 3 minutes or so and jot down a few things that have made today bearable, and see how it impacts your tomorrow.

“Reflect upon your present blessings, of which every man has plenty; not on your past misfortunes, of which all men have some.” -Charles Dickens

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