“It snowed last night,” I cried out in delight. As a child, I loved spending weekends at my parents’ cabin in the mountains near Lake Arrowhead, CA. When it snowed, white blanketed the pine trees and carpeted the ground. Footprints had not yet marred the landscape. Everything seemed so fresh, pristine, new.
As an adult, do you ever want a fresh start? I do. I usually don’t make New Year’s resolutions, but this year I am more reflective. The new year brings prospects for change, becoming unburdened with past mistakes and seizing new opportunities. But to do so takes work. That is why my number one priority for the new year is to think about what I am thinking about.
You have heard it said, “As a man thinketh, so is he.” Scientists have confirmed this by discovering that negative thoughts stemming from emotions such as repressed anger, fear, guilt, and unforgiveness trigger chemical reactions in our brain and body and lead to poor health outcomes. Researchers state that over 75% of illnesses can be attributed to negative thinking. Conversely, positive thoughts, such as gratefulness, lead to increased resiliency, decreased stress, and improved immune system functioning. Being aware of my positive and negative thoughts is important because I have multiple sclerosis, an autoimmune disease, but it is also important for EVERYONE.
We can’t always change our circumstances but we can choose our response.
Even when we experience difficult times, we can find reasons to be grateful. Being disabled and in a wheelchair, it is easy to overlook good things and focus on what I can’t do any more. Your situation may be different than mine, but everyone has challenges. This coming year I plan to keep a journal of things I am thankful for, then review it daily, especially when I start to feel “down in the dumps.”
How Do I Get Started?
Some people find it useful to write in a notebook, but for me it is easier to keep the journal on my phone. I started by just jotting down a list on the Notes app on my phone, but of course there is an app for everything, so find one that works for you.
What Do I Include?
Recognizing the little things is important. It’s a good idea to try and write a certain number of things down each day – maybe three or more. Try not to repeat things on your list. You can write about things that happened in your day, physical things (like your favorite shirt or a comfy bed), people in your life, and your abilities. Include why you are grateful for each item and how it makes you feel. For example:
-I am grateful for my Sleep Number bed because in the morning I can make the mattress firmer and the head raises up so I can get out of bed by myself. This makes me feel more independent.
-I am grateful for my 2 ½ year old granddaughter coming over to play with her new princess toy because there is such joy in seeing a child delighted.
Think about and thank God for the things on your list several times each day: morning, noon, and night. I have a wallhanging in my house that says, “Thankful, Grateful, Blessed.” This reminds me to be grateful to God for all of His blessings.
Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.
James 1:17 (NIV)
BIO: Dr. Sherry Ryan is a blogger, writer and speaker. She retired in 2013 from the University of North Texas as an Associate Professor of Information Technology and Decision Sciences. Prior to earning her doctorate, she worked for IBM, teaching courses and speaking at national conferences.
Sherry's blog SeatedExpectations.com provides "Inspiration and Information for Overcoming Life's Challenges."
Published on Wednesday, January 2, 2019 @ 1:36 PM CDT
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