A Healthy Balance: Gratitude is important
When we were younger, we were taught to be grateful for the things, friends and family we had, to be grateful not to be someone we weren’t (typically a starving child in another country), and grateful to others who sacrificed for our well-being.
Not that it was always easy as we cleaned our plates of lima beans, withstood another cheek-pinching from an ancient relative, or worse still, Christmas presents in the forms of underwear and socks.
As adults today, many of us find it equally difficult to find gratitude in our daily lives. With the economy tanking, job situations becoming precarious, family and relationship responsibilities devolving from enjoyable to major stressors, we all have a lot on our plates. And not all of it smells like roses.
Looking at it another way, recognizing things to be grateful for and expressing that gratitude has the proven benefit of improving our outlook on life and our overall wellbeing. By taking time to express how grateful we are for people in our lives, we foster healthier relationships with them.
Many spiritual practices offer the advice of looking for a lesson in adversity, actively learning from that lesson and being grateful to a higher power for providing the opportunity for growth and positive change.
A practice that I’ve found useful in the past has been to keep a gratitude journal filled with events or things for which I am grateful. It has spilled over into the rest of my life. I’m forever finding things to be grateful for throughout the day.
Sometimes it is as simple as being grateful I have a stressful job, family, or even just a bank account, however low.
All I have to do to summon gratitude is look around my office. The initial stages of the renovation were the best Valentine’s Day present I ever received.
After a family need took my partner out of town for a few months, my father and his best friend completed the work. Sometimes his best friend would come to work on the office on days that my dad had to work, showing up at 6 in the morning. And also at 6 in the morning, my sister would start calling me with deals she found on Craigslist.
Sure, I could have been frustrated at the early calls, but thanks to her, I got many of the furnishings for my office at prices I could actually afford.
I’ll admit that there were times when I wanted to say “Thanks, but no thanks” to my family for all their help or even stop taking their calls, but when I could take a step back and recognize their intent to help me be successful in doing something that I loved, it became much easier to listen to their suggestions and insistences on the best way to do things. Even at 6 in the morning.
Dr. Katie Baker is the owner of Stone Turtle Health, a naturopathic family clinic here in Ballard on 8th Avenue Northwest and Northwest 62nd Street (www.stoneturtlehealth.com). She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org with questions and or suggestions for column ideas.