Daily thanks can improve our physical health. “So what” may be the first response from someone in the depths of chronic illness and trauma. The second response typically is, “yeah right.” And it usually goes downhill from there. Many have even tried it before and were unsuccessful. So how can we apply thankfulness in a way that sticks and improves our health?
By no means am I saying this is easy when we have chronic illness and pain in our lives. I certainly am not saying do it for a week and you will wake up healthy and vibrant. The trauma in our lives also does not disappear because of a simplistic saying. Instead, I am saying it is a mindset and we all have to start somewhere or build on the thankfulness we already have.
There were times when I was so ill and had so many memories and current traumatic situations all at the same time that “thankful” was barely in my vocabulary. Who in their right mind could be thankful for my life and my situation? Well, it took work and a boatload of humbling experiences to create a more thankful mindset.
I had to learn to be thankful FIRST, then the skies would start to open and mindset of thankfulness would show some results in my state of health.
I thought I was a thankful person until everything seemed to come crashing in at the same time. There was not enough help to get me through my days of physical pain and the handicaps that kept me from caring for myself. There were not enough finances for all the medical attention I required.
There was no family to provide support and friends disappeared like I had the plague. And that is exactly when I started to become more thankful for the smallest of things.
It was the feeling of lack of control over anything in my life or my body that allowed me to see more of the value in the small things. It took the sting out of the illness and ongoing trauma issues.
Today I Will Be Thankful
It was one very tiny baby step at a time. All I could do was look at today, nothing more. I found something, no matter how small, and chose to be thankful for it.
Example: I had a bed to sleep in. It did not have clean sheets all the time and I was tired of being in it all the time, yet I had a bed. I was not having to sleep on the floor or an air mattress. I had a bed!!!
Example: I even chose to find thankfulness in the difficult relationships I had. Not to expect anything from anyone so I could be thankful when something good happened. It took away the sting of lack and turned it into thankfulness for the smallest of things.
Example: When I did not have the finances to pay for all of the medical attention I required, I realized that without the finances I DID have, I most likely would not have lived through that time. That was something tremendous to be thankful for.
Little by little I could see my attitude improving. Not by huge leaps and bounds but the small changes were enough to create some momentum. The thankful thoughts created a kindness towards myself and others that created less stress on my body so I could work on healing.
I am still not 100% thankful or kind at all times. Yet there is never a day that I cannot find something to be thankful for. Thankful Thursdays are a helpful reminder for me. I cannot expect others to do what I am not willing to do in my own life.
How well do you do with being thankful regardless of circumstances?
Maribeth Baxter, MBEC (Certified Mind-Body Eating Coach)
Donations are accepted to serve others on their chronic illness journey. Maribeth Baxter, MBEC provides voluntary certified health coaching services to the financially limited during their time of crisis.