MY GRATITUDE LIST (or "How I learned to deal with stress and anxiety one line at a time")
(This is a reposting from an old LinkedIn article that I wrote.)
For those of you that know me, you are probably aware of the many personal challenges I have had to face over the past three years. In short, it has not been easy time in my life. Last week, a good friend of mine asked me how I have been able to handle the burdens and stress so well. There are many techniques out there and I have consciously developed several of them. But I would say that the most impactful one has been my gratitude list.
Many famous people suggest doing this. It's not a novel concept. At first, I was skeptical. Now, I'm a complete convert. Focusing your mind on positive thoughts is amazingly powerful.
I started my list three years ago and I have nearly 1000 entries. I started on the day after my wife first had symptoms of what would eventually result in brain surgery. (Note: The surgery was a complete success and my wife's recovery is progressing steadily.)
My first effort at a gratitude list, about 5 years ago, failed. I tried to follow Oprah's guideline. But I just couldn't do it. So over the past four years, I have developed my own simple rules and I would like to share them with you.
Gratitude List Rules
Entries can be big, small, minutia, important, silly, or whatever. It all counts. It's just as meaningful to be grateful for a good cup of coffee or a comfy t-shirt as it is for the health of your family or clean water.
Don’t think too hard about it. In other words, don't judge or edit your entries. (Spelling doesn't count here)
Don’t worry about repeating entries. You can be grateful for the same things on different days which makes it OK to have duplicates in your list.
Try to do at least 5 at each update. 10 is better. 20 is great. Once you get past 5, it really starts to flow.
It’s not necessary to do it every day especially if doing so creates any pressure or anxiety. But try to do it at least once per week. You can do it any time of the day. The best time to do it is when you feel stressed, depressed or anxious. It’s also the hardest time. But doing so generates the greatest benefits.
My gratitude list is a simple, numbered list in a Word document since I have never liked my handwriting. So, for me, typing works perfectly. Plus, I have in my Dropbox which means I can access it anytime or anywhere. Your list can be in whatever form you desire. Just keep it simple and easy to access.
When I read thru my gratitude list, it is almost like a daily journal of my life. It reminds me of the obstacles I have overcome and the joys of life I have experienced. Please try it for yourself. I am confident that you will see similar results as I have had.
Image Source: http://bit.ly/2Dol5kA