As we approach the national holiday of gratitude, Thanksgiving, I have learned that practicing a grateful attitude of appreciation every day can change a day or even change a life. Admittedly, it is not always easy to find something positive to focus on when you could be impacted by one or more of what are said to be the top five most stressful life events:
- Death of a loved one
- Major illness or injury
- Job loss
This past year, I experienced three of the five events, major illness (cancer diagnosis of my brother’s longtime partner, Heather, as well as my best friend, Sandy), death of a loved one (my mother-in-law, Gladys, an aunt, and Heather, who succumbed to breast and pancreatic cancer, along with a major move (relocating from Indianapolis, Indiana to Wilmington, North Carolina.) Not all these experiences, however, were negative. Sandy survived breast cancer, and my husband, Mark, and I chose to relocate to an area near a beach with milder temperatures, especially since I could keep my job at netlogx working remotely.
So how did I best cope with these stressful life events, and what would I recommend to others experiencing similar situations? Foremost, for me, is relying on my faith to pray to God for strength, peace, and forgiveness. Secondly, in challenging times, gratitude provides a perspective to not be overwhelmed by temporary circumstances.
As my husband reminds me, “It could always be worse.” Gratitude shifts your focus from what your life lacks to the abundance that is already present. Practicing gratitude helps me to not take things for granted and appreciate the little things in life, like my dog’s unconditional love.
No one said life would be easy. But, by counting your blessings, noticing simple pleasures, and acknowledging everything that you receive helps to develop a deeper attitude of gratitude, something to be thankful for, not just on Thanksgiving.