There is no doubt about it, life can be tough at times. Last week was a pretty stressful week for me. I had a driving test, which I failed rather spectacularly, my husband had one of a series of hospital appointments, I was poorly, the husband was ill, I had an assignment deadline rapidly approaching and I was behind on my studies, frantically trying to catch up all while dealing with an usually grumpy, miserable and rude child. I felt overwhelmed and I remember at one point thinking I can’t take much more, waiting on tenterhooks for something else to be thrown at me.
One thing I have learned in the last year or so is how important it is to feel grateful for what we have in life. It is easy to wish we had a bigger house, a nicer car, more holidays, a job we love and it is easy to think that any one of these things can fix us, can make our lives better. While more money might make life a little easier and more holidays might help us to feel more rested, the truth is, changing things on the outside changes very little.
For pretty much my entire adult life, I always thought If only I could change this things would be better. I thought that my pain, misery and stress could be fixed if we had more money, if the husband understood me better, if I wasn’t in so much pain all of the time. Of course these things could have helped but ultimately, I was miserable because I was an alcoholic who hadn’t yet realised she had a problem.
Dealing with my alcoholism hasn’t just taught me how to put down the bottle, it’s taught me how to live and it’s brought about a change in attitude. I would never have admitted it at the time but I used to be a victim, or rather I would play the victim. Although I knew my mum loved me and absolutely did her best, I didn’t have the most stable of upbringings. We struggled financially, she died when I was 21 and I didn’t get to see my sisters grow up, and these were all reasons for my behaviour, not excuses in my mind. I was justified in feeling this way. If you had had the life I had you’d be pretty miserable too. I was always wanting more; more love, more money, more stuff.
One thing I have started to do recently, is keeping a gratitude journal. I know, it sounds cheesy but I truly think that an attitude of gratitude can change our perspective, help us to see things in a different light and when our perspective changes, our lives also change. Of course, it doesn’t happen overnight, or all of the time. I still have rubbish days, in fact I really struggled recently for four days straight and nothing made me feel better until I had a good old cry on Monday night, sometimes that really is all that helps. Generally speaking though, the vast majority of us have a great deal to be thankful for. Whether it be the big things like having a roof over our heads or the little things like a stranger smiling at you in the street, it’s important to acknowledge the good things in our lives.
Do you keep a gratitude journal?