Those of you who know of my work and philosophy know how much I like gratitude as a self care practice. Pre-pandemic is the last time I specifically wrote about gratitude (at least that I could find looking back through my blogs – I’ll send a deck of “What to Say, Family Mealtime Cards” from With All to anyone who can find a blog on my website in the past 12 months that has Gratitude as the primary topic).
It can feel impossible at the worst and insensitive at the least to feel gratitude during this endless-feeling pandemic. I get that, there is so much suffering, grief, pain, loss and misery. So the question might be, “How do we have gratitude while honoring and respecting the suffering?”
Not only does gratitude help grow hope as you can read more about in this post on gratitude, it can be a bridge to stay connected to others.
Science has shown us the many health benefits of practicing gratitude, I shared a resource in this blog post back in 2018 where I wrote about the ballistic missile threat I experienced in Hawaii. It’s a tool I learned about early on in this journey. And as this Forbes article on Gratitude shares, it can benefit both our physical and psychological health.
When I first learned about using gratitude to reduce suffering it was early on in my journey as a family caregiver. I could not fathom what there could be to be grateful for when I had such a very ill family member whose life was in a precarious state. I did not know from one day to the next if it would be their last. Living with that sheer terror had stripped away my ability to see all that was good in my life.
Living through this pandemic has made me acutely aware of so many things to be grateful for. As someone who has worked from home for many years, I am incredibly fortunate to be able to stay safely home and still have income. As scary and anxiety provoking as it has been to exist and stay safe, there is so much for me to be grateful for as I still have; a home, enough food, a job, income, safety, good health.
That all being said, the underlying daily fear has been there. We had a friend in Britain who found out on a Friday that she had Covid, went on a ventilator Saturday and died on that Sunday. I personally know people who’ve lost family members. Hearing of the long term effects for those who survive is terrifying to me.
Gratitude as a tool for shifting out of fear can be so powerful. Instead of focusing on, ruminating on the very real fears, it helps us to focus on all that is good. Many of you have heard me say that when I first learned of this tool, I found myself in the shower and realized I am grateful for a shower with warm running water in my home. That is something that many of us take for granted and yet shocking numbers of people do not have this luxury. That began my quest to practice gratitude for what are “everyday” things for me and suddenly in the midst of a health crisis in my family I found gratitude for not only showers but also; flush toilets, enough food to eat, eyes to see, legs that carry me, a car, enough money to put gas in the car, employment, friends and family, health of the rest of us, the internet to find resources. And the list kept growing and growing as I practiced.
This past Friday as my husband and I unexpectedly were able to secure Covid Vaccines, I found myself extremely grateful for the fear beginning to subside. Soon we will live with less fear of becoming seriously ill or dying from this virus.
You are invited to share your experiences of practicing gratitude, it might help you as well as others.
I’m grateful to you dear reader as well. You make writing these weekly newsletters worthwhile. Thank you for reading and thank you for doing all you can to keep you and the rest of us safe.