If I Didn't Make Myself Practice Gratitude, Life With Cancer Would Be A Lot Harder
One of my favourite things to do for my “down time” is to journal. One of my other favourite things to practice is gratitude. Seriously, I thrive off this!
When I first got diagnosed way back in 2016, one of my first “tasks” given to me by a practitioner was to sit down and think about three things I am grateful for, and then to write them down each morning. I had never done this in my life! Seriously, I had never looked around or actually thought about the things I appreciate. I took a lot for granted. And I guess we all do it sometimes, and sometimes it does take something to make you appreciate all the beauty that is around you. Honestly, doing so was a life saver. Had I not had the immense amount of gratitude for life and my surroundings, this journey would have been a lot harder.
For me, gratitude just comes naturally now. I’m constantly thinking or even saying out loud how grateful I am. Whether it be on my walk taking in my beautiful surroundings, where I live, the food I get to nourish my body with, my community and my close friends and family around me. No matter what my day looks like, there is ALWAYS going to be something to be grateful about.
I’ve learnt that by practicing gratitude on a daily basis will actually rewire your thoughts and thinking. When something bad happens or something doesn’t go your way, it’s easier to pick out the positives rather than the negatives. It helps you see certain situations as "not that bad" and helps you focus your attention on the good.
For example, in my situation, I’m just going to state the obvious here… cancer sucks. It’s scary and no one wants to be told they have it. We can all agree here that it is a really, shitty disease! But, I’m eternally grateful for the opportunity it has given me to better myself. To change and to grow. I’m grateful for this wake up call. I'm grateful that I can now see life through different eyes. Honestly, cancer has shaped me in ways I never thought I’d become and it’s giving me various different avenues and opportunities I can take when the time is right.
Life doesn’t have to be shit people!
Just recently, my friend and fellow cancer fighter, Jess Olson, assigned me to a task that I had to do each morning and night for 3 weeks. I had to document a few objects that I was thankful for in my room upon awakening. At night I had to reflect on three things that I was grateful for that day, three things that went wrong or weren’t exactly ideal, and then I had to turn those three things into positives. I jumped at this little task because even though I’m constantly thinking about how grateful I am for whatever might be that day, sometimes I don’t physically sit down and write it out, which I think is an awesome way to really acknowledge it.
I’m usually pretty good at turning things into positives as I have done this for 3 years now. But I’d be lying if I didn’t find some of this task challenging. Which is good! We have to challenge ourselves in life! How do we get any further than where we are? I stuck it out because I knew doing this was going to be really beneficial for me. Because let’s be honest, no one’s perfect and sometimes the days get away from us. After I would document my days for a week I would report back to Jess, via email, and let her know how this is benefitting me and also recognising my struggles as well. In turn she helped me by exchanging amazing advice where I found it hard to turn certain scenarios into positives.
Doing this task has rebooted me again to start writing down three things I am grateful for along with positive thinking. I cannot stress it enough how important this is! Life is tough. We all face sticky situations. So my number one advice is to start practising gratitude NOW. It’s so beneficial and can pull you out of a slump.
Some examples that I have for myself are:
- I am grateful for the ocean
- I am grateful for my friends
- I am grateful for that good morning text I received
- I am grateful to have a roof over my head
- I am grateful to have legs that can move
- I am grateful for that person who smiled at me today
There is also no right or wrong way in how you want to do this. You can write it, go into depth with it, paint it, scribble it. Whatever works best for you! You might even find it hard and challenging to think of things you’re grateful for or you may find it hard to change a negative situation into a positive. I totally get it! The best you can do is to just keep practicing gratitude daily. Because lemme tell you, there are SOOO many things in life to be grateful for. You just gotta keep looking on the bright side.
I am grateful to be alive.
“When I embrace gratitude and make it my default setting, the rest of my life fits together as the perfectly imperfect, messy but impeccably beautiful privilege that it is”