grat·i·tude noun \ˈgra-tə-ˌtüd, -ˌtyüd\
: a feeling of appreciation or thanks
In November, as Thanksgiving approaches, the word “gratitude” seems to be popping up everywhere. It’s a shame we don’t focus on our blessings as much as we should year ’round, but I’m thankful to be surrounded by reminders this month.
Even under the best circumstances, it’s easy to get caught up in the crazy pace, endless demands, and mind-numbing routines that tend to define life in the 21st century. The danger, of course, is that we become oblivious to the little miracles that surround us daily.
And Then There’s Caregiving
Let’s keep it real here – when you’re a caregiver, gratitude can be hard to come by. You’re pulled in a million directions, stressed to the max, and you often find yourself just trying to keep your head above water. You’re likely faced with some of the most difficult decisions of your life and each step forward leads you deeper into the unknown.
The days of being proactive are a distant memory – these days, reactive mode is the norm. To add insult to injury, you’re watching someone you love dearly slip further away with each passing moment.
It’s easy to see why gratitude isn’t the foremost thing on your mind…
As hokey as it may sound, the truth is gratitude has the power to get us through the most challenging of times if we just make a small effort.
Several months ago, I wrote an article for Caregivers.com discussing the idea of “cultivating gratitude”. It’s all about being aware of the world around us and realizing even in the seemingly mundane, there are great blessings.
November is the perfect time to give this a try. Each day this month, take just a few minutes in the morning or right before bed to jot down a couple of things you’re thankful for. There’s plenty of inspiration at every turn, and you can even join a group of 6,000 or so new friends in the KindSpring 21-Day Gratitude Challenge beginning November 7th.
Happiness is not what makes us grateful. It is gratefulness that makes us happy. -Brother David Steindl-Rast
It’s a Journey
What do you have to lose, right? Give it a whirl and see if you don’t notice your outlook is a little brighter and you’re consciously experiencing more moments of joy.
Remember that some days, you may really have to dig deep to find just one thing you feel grateful for. It’s not always going to be a big-ticket item; in fact, most often, it will be something small.
- Having 20 minutes to enjoy your coffee before the rest of the house wakes up.
- A smile from the loved one you’re caring for.
- Your warm bed on a cold night.
- The fact that Mom ate her lunch.
- The scent of a favorite candle.
In hindsight, with it all said and done, I truly believe our Alzheimer’s journey taught me that the little things in life really are the big things. I’m not saying I walk around in a state of euphoria all day long (I wish!), but it’s all about perspective.
In my case, it’s an ongoing process; I have to consciously remind myself of what’s important and of my many blessings. In fact, I’m using the 21-Day Gratitude Challenge as motivation to get back into the habit of writing down the things I’m thankful for each day.
Join me in the challenge and let me know how it goes!!