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Finding Gratitude in the Busy, Holiday Season

From the Therapist's Desk

This blog post was written by Jordan Wachter, a Core Physical Therapy PT.

What are you thankful for? Gratitude has been on my mind a lot lately, especially during times that are more difficult or stressful. It’s a word that is said a lot this time of year, but depending on your season of life, it can be really easy to show gratitude, or it can be really difficult.

Often, what gets in the way of gratitude is our own worries, concerns, fears, and wants. Those are easy traps to fall into, and there are legitimate reasons for why we become worried or fearful, and a healthy balance of want can be a good thing. But when our mind fixates on them, then they begin to consume our mind, our time, and our lives.

And those difficult or stressful seasons of our lives are the perfect ground for those things to grow out of control. It could be a stressful situation with finances, or a worry about a family member. Or it could be wanting and longing so bad for what someone else has, or what you used to have and don’t anymore, that what you do have is ignored and forgotten about.

Gratitude can be tough. It requires us to honestly examine ourselves and our situation in order to recognize the things we are overlooking in our lives that bring us joy. Have you ever heard the phrase, “You never know what you have until it’s gone?” Gratitude helps combat that. It gently challenges us to look around and notice what we do have (family, friends, community, homes, food, etc.) and to put what truly is most meaningful ahead of the things that seem urgent and important, but ultimately pale in comparison in the long run.

So how can this be implemented? Try starting slow, appreciating things as you come across them. Take an extra second to cherish a moment or a view, recognizing it either in the moment or reflecting on it at the end of the day. Say it out loud. Tell someone what they mean to you, even a simple “I appreciate you.” Notice what is going your way and what brings joy.

Things like having food to eat, people in your life, or even the ability to breathe all meet these criteria. You can even be thankful for things that aren’t going your way, as you can still benefit from those situations, but that can be difficult to recognize and appreciate. And the more you practice gratitude, the more you’ll notice all that you have to be thankful for.

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