November 23, 2009

Declaring Gratitude This Week

There’s no need to belabor the point:

Your mind and spirit need gratitude the way your body needs food and water. I would argue that a life without gratitude is a life more susceptible to illness, depression, and anxiety. Gratitude, like vitamins, cannot be stored. Just as you take supplements to promote well-being, a daily regimen of gratitude has to be one of the most important practices of a healthy mind.

Make no mistake: Gratitude is a practice. To enjoy maximum benefits, develop the habit of practicing gratitude twice a day. Once in the morning and once before going to bed at night is my recommendation.

I remember when I was depressed and terrified of the world. In those days I still used alcohol and marijuana in an attempt to temper my moods. They didn’t work, of course, so I found myself using them more and more in the insane search for something to make me feel better.

Then a friend suggested taking a hit of gratitude rather than a hit off the bong. So one night in the midst of a dreadful bout of fear and self-loathing I tried the following prescription:

I sat down with pen and paper and wrote, “I declare that I am grateful to be able to write this sentence.” I looked around the room and saw my toddlers’ playthings. “I declare that I am grateful for my sweet little boys.” Once I started, some unseen force seemed to be guiding my hand. Before I knew it I’d filled an entire page with declarations of gratitude.

I recommend writing your declarations rather than thinking them or speaking them aloud. There’s power and release in seeing, feeling, and hearing the rush of gratitude form itself on the page before you.

This week in the United States we pause to declare gratitude for our lives. But why not practice gratitude every single day

You have nothing to lose, and a more peaceful life to gain.

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