Here is a surefire way to bring down your stress level.
Whenever I nosedive into feeling worried or harried or completely stressed out, I have a surefire method to counteract these undesirable feelings. It works every time! It can be hard to start – I might tell myself I don’t have enough time, or it won’t work, but those are just feeble excuses. When I actually sit down to begin, this practice I’m about to share always helps my mood improve and become more positive. Scientific studies 1 have proven, without a doubt, that if we start focusing on what is right, what feels good to us, what there is to be grateful for, we can and will shift into more happiness, peace, joy and even better health! I know it sounds almost too good to be true, but it has worked for me over and over again, and in this article, I will share some of my own Top Ten list. And I invite you to try it too.
I call this tool My Grand List of Gratitude. Start a huge list of everything and everyone you are grateful for. I find that I can never run out of things to add – this list can be endless, and even ongoing.
1. FAMILY. As I write my list, I usually start with being grateful for the love in my life and my family. Studies have proven that we humans inherently need love, connection with others, and community to flourish. Since this is true, I list all the people starting with my wonderful husband, the gift of my great adult stepchildren, darling grandkids, my beloved sisters, and my parents who are now deceased. Family is such a given in most people’s lives, and in my own, I am supremely grateful for the loved ones who are so close to me. I even give thanks for my first husband! Sure, we ended up divorcing, but because of that process, I met someone more compatible, and came out a stronger woman and more independent too.
2. FRIENDS. These are the chosen family in my life who I treasure so much. I am part of a spiritual community, and we all support and love each other. Very grateful! Other people to be thankful for could be business associates, your boss, or a best friend from childhood.
3. MY BODY. How it works atomically is a miracle! I am thankful for my strong, healthy body which sees, hears, touches, feels, and smells. Our bodies are such an intricate system, and I marvel at how well mine works.
4. NATURE. The list here can be literally infinite. I am a nature girl, and I give thanks for all parts of nature – the seasons bringing change like clockwork every few months; the beauty of rivers, trees, lakes, ocean. All the myriad of different animals. All the flowers that bloom, whether wildflowers or dahlias, sunflowers, irises, lilac, roses, wisteria or name your particular favorite! I know every person can find something in nature to feel grateful for, whether you live in the city (maybe a beautiful nearby park, or your own container garden), or the desert or plains. Everyone gets to see sunsets and dawns, cumulus or storm clouds, the night skies. All of nature is such a gift to all of us.
5. PETS. In my list, I must include my furry friends; a border collie, hound dog, and two cockatiels, but your list may include cats or horses or tropical fish. I am so grateful for our pets’ unconditional love, how they are always in the now, and for how joyful they naturally are.
6. WORK LIFE. I happen to be a freelance book designer, and I so enjoy the variety of books and authors I work for, as well as the freedom it affords me. You may be working for a corporation or a small business. Friends from work could be on your list, so could the perks of benefits and holidays you receive; and if you’re really lucky, you love your meaningful work and can be grateful for that.
7. TALENTS. I truly believe every single person is creative in their own way. So list what you are gifted with as a person. In my case, I am grateful for the art I enjoy doing – pastels and photography, and my writing skills. But it could be your affinity for numbers, your way with people, serving others, or whatever it might be for you.
8. INNATE QUALITIES. I am grateful for my determination, my caring heart, my sensitivity, my intuition, my natural optimism, my sharp mind, and the way I do my best at everything I endeavor. I know each person has their own unique and special list.
9. MODERN DAY LIFE. We can be thankful for electricity, stoves, refrigerators, cell phones and the internet. The internet in particular has helped the whole world be connected in seconds. Facts can be revealed in seconds. Quite amazing.
10. PAST FAILURES. Yes, this is a valuable area of our lives to be grateful for. I have found that all mistakes I’ve made have brought me to where I am today. Things that I have been disappointed about, or failed at, made me stronger and I have used these lessons to be a better person.
Your list can be one word for each thing you are grateful for, a sentence or even a paragraph about each thing. The next time you feel down in the dumps, give making a Grand List of Gratitude a try. I absolutely promise you will get yourself out of the doldrums. And I honestly believe with all my heart we can never run out of things to be grateful for. Life is SO abundant, and the possibilities for our list literally endless. Start by making a list of 5 things, 10 things, 25 things, try 100! You’ll probably find it hard to stop. And I know you’ll be automatically happier and more peaceful.
Deborah Perdue is the author of five books on gratitude including a beautifully illustrated Grace of Gratitude Journal and Daily Gratitude Reflections, 365 Guides to Great-Full Living. Sharing the power of gratitude is her passion and calling! She teaches workshops, classes and facilitates retreats. Ms. Perdue is a licensed practitioner for the Center for Spiritual Living. She lives in a dome home in the forest in Grants Pass, Oregon with her husband, and menagerie.
This article was also posted on Forbes.com July 31st which I am so grateful for: