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Gratitude: It’s Not Just for Gift Giving

Hello my dear readers.

I have not as yet had the privilege of writing about wellness on this amazing platform, however, I am not new to the topic.

As lawyers and legal professions, we are not very good at taking time to care for ourselves. We are in the business of helping and caring for others and at the end of the day, there is usually very little time left for us.

My goal is to welcome you all into this space and invite you to give yourselves permission to take a few moments to recharge, breathe and find some peace within this wonderful and at times quite stressful legal profession.

Transforming Negative into Positive

As the days are getting shorter and darkness sets in very early, I want to share some thoughts that may help to get through the winter months.

When I was younger and would get sad that the days were getting shorter, my father would tell me to start counting the days until December 22. The reason being is that after that date, the days start slowly getting longer.

It was a way to transform something negative (dark, short days), into something positive ( days getting longer and brighter).

I still use this technique and now remind my dad of our tradition, when he at times complains about the early darkness.

As I practice this reframing I am reminded about the magic of gratitude.

The Magic of Gratitude

I recently read about Linda Stone, an executive at Microsoft and Apple who was giving a presentation to high level executives.

During the presentation, she showed everyone a device for measuring heart rate variability. This machine which was supposed to turn red when the person had high levels of stress, and green when they were calm.

Ms. Stone tried to make the monitor turn green by using various breathing techniques, but was not successful. She then decided to try something different. She looked at the audience and started to express her appreciation for the people who were present.

As soon as she started to express gratitude, the monitor turned green. It seems that a simple shift of being grateful reduced the body’s stress response more than breathing techniques.

I am certain the concept of gratitude is not new to you. However at this time of shorter and darker days, when our moods may not be as happy as we would like, I would like to invite you to practice gratitude.

Here are some ways to practice being grateful:

  1. Keep a gratitude journal by your bed and record at least one thing before bed for which you are grateful. The more items the better. It does not have to be complicated… being grateful for having a delicious cup of tea or coffee, eating a delicious meal, spending time with family, pets, friends. These are all things to be grateful for.
  2. Look for things to be grateful for throughout the day. This will help foster a practice of seeing the good rather than the bad.

As you start to practice gratitude you may find that you are becoming more mindful of the things that you are grateful for, which in turn will create a calming and relaxing effect on your nervous system.

I am happy to hear from our readers regarding any other gratitude practices that are part of their daily self care routine.

Wishing everyone a wonderful winter season and remember to always take time to self care.

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Disclaimer

The information in this article is not therapy, counseling, psychotherapy, psychoanalysis, mental health care/treatment, substance abuse care/ treatment, nor is it medical, psychological, mental health advice or treatment, or any other professional advice.

The information in this article is for information purposes only, and is not to be used as a substitute for therapy, counseling, psychotherapy, psychoanalysis, mental health care, medical care, or any other professional advice by legal, medical or other qualified professionals.

The information in this article shall not be recorded, copied or distributed.

If you feel that you may need medical or other professional help, please contact your doctor or call 911 if it is an emergency.

Comments

  1. This is terrific advice, especially at this time of year! One gratitude practice that works for me is to consume less news and more history.

    The news is always mostly bad. Not because life is mostly bad, but rather because bad things are much more likely than good things to “make the news.”

    History books & documentaries make me feel grateful to be alive here and now. We get to enjoy indoor plumbing, seatbelts, antibiotics, airplanes, bicycles, smartphones, and a million other forms of progress. Each of these things would be correctly seen as a miracle by the 99% of our predecessors who had to live without them.

    The reality of progress doesn’t wash away the problems we face or the urgent need to confront them, but for me at least it’s a source of both gratitude and optimism.

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