Gratitude: The Great Sanitizer

160_F_71267059_mrswxnfs7P5YnpSTJ7iTBjih1iou0UkdI recently read a blog titled, “The Ten Worst Things to Say to Someone With Anxiety.” I disagreed with mostly everything. The list included: “Don’t tell someone with anxiety to be grateful.” I get that the last thing someone in pain wants to hear is, “Suck it up and count your blessings.” And honestly, I’d never say it like that! But, I strongly believe gratitude can wash away pain and anxiety. I feel strongly about this because I’ve witnessed the benefits of it in my own life. I even thank my refrigerator for keeping my food cold! I also see how gratitude helps so many people manage their emotional energy from negative to positive. There are plenty of studies to prove how much it helps to express gratitude.

Expressing gratitude is very powerful, but that doesn’t mean it’s easy to do when facing adversity. So maybe that’s why the person who wrote that blog says it’s the worst thing to tell someone with anxiety. Maybe the author of that blog is looking for an easier way out. Just because you don’t like something you hear, doesn’t mean it’s wrong. If you know me then you know I’d love to ask the author, “You don’t express gratitude? How’s that working out for you?”

In the face of adversity you may not feel like expressing gratitude. You feel like crawling into a hole and never coming out. But, staying in that hole isn’t easy either. No matter what you do, it’s going to be hard. 160_F_106049106_kGUeuqhtWYLpfNtJIDnNjCggu3P0hYMIBut, if you make a plan to express gratitude even in the face of adversity, and you stick to that plan no matter how you feel, it actually will be easier than you think. Because the plan is already made. Less energy is required to follow a plan already made.

This is day 4 of a 30 day challenge. Here it is: Make a plan to express gratitude at least once a day, no matter how you feel. You can thank a person for the smallest little gesture. You can thank any object that has energy. Just do it no matter how you feel. (By the way, the author of that blog also hates to be told, “Just do it.”)
It might even help to sit down and make a schedule of who or what you’re going to appreciate each day for the month of April. Then stick to the plan! Have your phone remind you to “just do it.”

I love all the comments so keep them coming!

14 thoughts on “Gratitude: The Great Sanitizer”

  1. Okay, if you can thank the refrigerator for keeping your food cold, I guess that today I will thank my vacuum cleaner and other tools and products for helping me to clean my house. It helps to know that you can express gratitude to “things” and not just people. That’s something that I never thought of before. And since everything has energy, now there are many choices for expressing gratitude. Thanks! Going to start cleaning now 🙂

  2. Well, I’m glad I decided to thank the cleaning tools as well as the vacuum because my back is too sore to attempt using it. For awhile I struggled with what to do. After getting something healthy to eat, I asked myself if I could find barely enough room to do something. As a result, I did straighten up the great room and dust my bedroom, so I am going to consider that a victory. Now getting some heat on my back (instead of Advil) and read while I wait to go for some deep tissue massage. Not the day I visualized, but the day I’ve been given… and that’s okay.

  3. That’s a great way of looking at gratitude. I believe I remember you saying once that it’s hard to feel down while you’re expressing kindness/gratitude and that really stuck with me. I think the author of that piece should know that there are ways to tell those with anxiety to be grateful without being insensitive, and that like you explained, gratitude can actually alleviate anxiety symptoms! However, I understand where they are coming from (though I don’t agree with them), because some people who don’t understand anxiety disorders will make ignorant comments like “What are you so worried about? There are people who have it so much than you, be grateful!” without understanding how difficult it is to have an anxiety disorder and that we can’t just turn a switch “off” and “get over it.”

    1. Right! It’s not an on off switch! I wish it was!!! I think it should sound something like this: “I know you are in a lot of pain right now. And I can tell you want to put in more effort to get better. Here’s an idea. What if you were to express gratitude once a day? There is lots of proof it can be very helpful.”

  4. I believe that it can be very difficult for someone with OCD to express gratitude because it may feel as if everything is bad (black-and-white thinking). That’s why I think that it helps to start with the basics. Be grateful for the simple things in your life: I can see (although, admittedly, not very well); I’m able to smile (I should do that more often…); I can breathe in and breathe out; I can read (although I prefer small words) and I have a wild imagination (a bit of a prerequisite for having OCD). Now, having a wild imagination can be used for bad (such as feeding OCD) or for good. Consider all of the things invented and the novels written due to imagination. Lastly, and most importantly, I am alive. I can have experiences – they are good and bad, but I can have them. I am not grateful for that nearly enough. We are often kind and express gratitude to those around us – we should do the same for ourselves.

  5. Recently I was putting my clothes away when I became frustrated that I didn’t have enough space for them. I was so upset at this “problem” until I took a step back and thought this is something to be grateful for. There are so many people who would do anything if this was a “problem” for them. As I thought this over I realized that there are many situations where I could use my energy to be grateful rather than upset or frustrated. It can be difficult to do sometimes when I’m not being mindful, but when I do it turns an upsetting situation into something to be grateful for.

  6. Learning and practicing graditude has helped me tremendously in coping with my OCD. It helps me to accept struggles and challenging times with a different light. I can tell when I’ve forgotten to practice graditude because the days begin to feel darker and things feel less like lessons and more like struggles. I agree it’s a hard concept to explain to others who are struggling because the concept seems so difficult when you feel trapped.

  7. I realized it’s important to be grateful for everything that you have because there are many people that have a lot less than you do. I tell someone that I love them everyday, I hold doors open for people and smile at strangers in the grocery store. I love when my friends send me messages that I cheered them up and made their day by something I said or did.

  8. I think any of us can relate to being at this point, where we finally understand that being grateful is as important as breathing each breath. Perhaps the next step forward is to think of how our actions can possibly give someone, even if it’s only for a fleeting moment or a lifetime, grateful for us. It could even be something like volunteering your time as a volunteer dog walker at a shelter, it doesn’t have to be a human, just find a way.

  9. What a wonderful encouragement this blog post is! My husband was talking tonight about how sharing the things we are greatful for is an antidote to depression. .. now I am reading this… Maybe I am getting a hint to start a gratitude journal or something 🙂

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