When your heart is broken, it can sometimes feel as though nothing is right in your world. I get it! It’s fair, reasonable and completely normal to feel that way.
What I also know, is that in those moments of deepest sadness, it’s been profoundly helpful for me to take a few moments to be aware of what’s right in my world. And to be grateful.
This is not about denying what is happening or what I am feeling. It’s about very deliberately being aware that the event or feeling is not taking up all of me – even when I feel like it is.
The early days after my son Mike died, it often felt as though the pain was everything. But then my dog would come and lay down next to me and I would find myself grateful to have his love and steadfast devotion. To feel his warm breath and the softness of his ears. One of my sons would tell a story about growing up and I would find myself laughing and thinking about how lucky I have been to have had these boys (now men, of course) in my life. I would sit in the family room, watching the flames in the fireplace and find peace as I remembered all of the times my husband built a fire for us to enjoy time together.
When we deliberately focus on something for which we can be grateful, we open ourselves up to healing. Gratitude reminds us that our world is more than pain. Research shows that gratitude helps to reset our emotions, lower our blood pressure and even improves our immune system. Amazing, isn’t it?
Keep a Gratitude List. Put it next to your bed or someplace that you see it first thing in the morning and last thing at night. Make it a point to write down a few things every day. Here are a few suggestions.
– What act of kindness did you experience today?
– Do you have enough food to eat?
– Did you enjoy a hot bath or shower?
– Did something go better than you expected?
– What did you say or do for someone else that made you both feel good?
– Do you have somewhere safe to sleep tonight?
Taking the time to notice these things, and so many more is powerful stuff. Our brains are wired to notice and remember danger and pain so that we learn to be safe. However, much like the 6 o’clock news, that which is good, doesn’t always get a lot of attention.
When we focus on what is good, whether it’s a hug from a child or a bite of chocolate, and really take a few moments to savor the thought, the feeling, and notice where we experience this in our body, we are taking steps in healing.
Embrace the goodness in full. And revisit those moments frequently. It matters.