The Thankful List

Being thankful. It seems like such an easy concept. And, yet how often during any given day do we stop and take the time to feel thankful for what we have? We can get so focused on what’s missing – what’s wrong with our lives. We lose sight of the fact that in every moment there are things going on that we can say a silent “thanks” for.

Not sure what’s on your list? Are you reading this now? Are you breathing? Are you able to sit up of your own accord? Start with the very basic things and go on from there. I often don’t recognize my physical “gifts” until they go missing. In fact, every time I have injured myself I realize how much I take for granted – when my elbow was broken last summer, when my arm was in a cast, when I broke my ankle and even one of my toes! Without these limbs, the normal everyday things became very difficult. A friend who has had an ongoing problem with his middle finger said that he never noticed what an important role that finger played until he couldn’t use it!

For many people who are under stress, getting up in the morning can feel like a chore and going to be bed at night can be troubling – mostly thinking about the fact that they have to get up the next morning! Try making a thankful list before you go to bed at night, so that your mind is filled with things that are positive and going well. And when you get up in the morning, start by being thankful that you are able to get out of bed.

Many of us cultivate a “feel sorry for me” attitude. Sometimes it’s our way of dealing with our difficulties, and sometimes it allows us to garner attention we may need. I’m not judging it – I find myself falling into it from time to time. But a “woe is me” attitude can bring us down. It can deplete our energy for things that would benefit us. While “woe is me” might feel good in the moment, it is like a sieve allowing positive and useful energy to escape.

Being thankful and finding ways to acknowledge what we DO have is sometimes hard when we don’t feel like it. But, in my own experience, once we start the process it gets easier and easier to find the many things we have as blessings. Start with something simple, like the fact that you are alive or breathing. If you have some aspect of your health, focus on that. If you have the ability to get up and walk somewhere you want to go, that’s another one. If you can read, write, speak or talk on the phone, those count, too.

Oftentimes we think we need to have things in place before we can be thankful. We need a certain job, or the kids to act a certain way or a certain bank balance. Once we achieve these things, we mistakenly think, we can be happy and thankful.

Instead of wasting time waiting for the conditions to be right, start now finding your thankful list. Focus on at least three things each night, and three more in the morning. See whether it changes your overall attitude toward your life.