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How a Gratitude Practice Helps when Dealing with a Loss

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Last week, my friend Shawn asked me, “I still struggle with journaling my gratitude. How can I practice gratitude in a way that’s not cheesy?” 

What do you think? 

CHEEZY OR AUTHENTIC

Is it cheezy or authentic to do a gratitude journal?

Here is what I think.  

Shawn elaborated; “How do I practice it authentically in a way that it’s not just like me checking off an item on a list? Like, okay, great. I have a table, shoes, clothes, a car and an apartment. 

I don’t limit it to just material things, it also includes; the people, the relationships, the mindset, the health, and whatever. I can go write this list every single day, but I don’t feel that it’s necessarily going to help me in the way that an authentic gratitude practice can.”

“I think it’s the simplest way to start. For me, it has evolved over the last 15 years. Despite, its simplicity, I have noticed it helps me in so many ways. Let’s see a recent example.” I replied.  

HOW IT HELPED ME RECENTLY

“Have you ever lost a pet or something you loved?”

Our cat Masala has been missing for more than a month. It brings tears in my eyes when I talk about him. (I refer to our cat as “him” instead of “it” because he had become a part of our family.) I still hope that someone finds him and he returns home. 

How do you handle the grief of losing something dear to you? 

I am having a little hard time, but one thing is helping me. What is that?

Before losing him, I didn’t realize that I would miss him so much. You see, I was never a cat person or in that sense, never a pet person before. A year and a half back, we adopted this cat on our children’s insistence. We named him Masala, which means spice. He was spicy in both his color and nature. 

He could fall asleep in an odd position anywhere. His body would totally relax. (I think that is why in some cultures cats are considered Zen Masters).

He did many goofy things too. One of his habits was to come and sit in my lap whenever I was writing my gratitude journal. Sometimes it frustrated me, but many times his innocent face helped me release my frustrations.

When he disappeared on Halloween morning, we did everything to find him. We reported him, placed flyers, and posted ads. There are so many friendly people giving us tips and support to find him. Yet he is still missing, and we are grieving. 

We have done what was in our control. Now we have left it to fate. If he’s meant to have more time with us, he will return. 

I confess, that many days I feel very sad. I feel grief, and I miss him. I am getting teary-eyed thinking about him.

Have you noticed that it is easier to think of things to be grateful for when you wake up positive, but not when you are feeling negative? 

When you a daily routine, as I have for 15 yrs, it forces you to focus on things that are positive. 

When I do it, it helps me shift my thoughts from negative grief thoughts to positive grateful thoughts. 

I’m grateful that I had more than a year with this creation of God that brought love to our lives. And then I’m thankful for this human emotion of love that I’m experiencing. Yes, it hurts, it makes me cry, yet it’s still a beautiful blessing that some people don’t get to experience. 

So you see, my simple gratitude practice is helping me in ways that may not be that obvious. 

It’s not just a list of things I am grateful for. It is the practice of listing that is helping me develop this attitude of gratitude. That is the real benefit of a gratitude practice.”

So have you started your gratitude practice yet?

If not, start today. If the listing method doesn’t work for you, try a different way.  There are many different ways to develop a gratitude practice. 

DIFFERENT WAYS FOR PRACTICING GRATITUDE 

I’ve shared some of those in the “Stress to Joy Guided Gratitude Journal like IGF, 3GT/LFT, and AGF methods. 

I also shared a few more in my last post; How to make Thanksgiving meaningful. https://drrozina.com/gratitude/making-thanksgiving-meaningful-with-unique-gratitude-practices/

For Example:

* Sending the gratitude notes to people who made a difference in your life. 

* Expressing gratitude in an appreciation circle at family gatherings. 

* Showing your gratitude in action by doing a service project etc.

These are some of the different ways you can develop this simple but powerful practice.  Why do I call it powerful?

EFFECT OF GRATITUDE PRACTICE ON THE BRAIN

Many studies over the past decade have found that people who consciously count their blessings tend to be happier and less depressed. 

I shared one such research in one of my previous blogs: https://drrozina.com/blog/benefits-of-gratitude/.

This research at UC Berkeley found that gratitude practice creates not only positive feelings but actual positive changes in the brain. Especially the medial prefrontal cortex, the area that is associated with social cognition and behavior. They also found that gratitude practice helps us heal faster. You can read the research in more detail here. https://greatergood.berkeley.edu/article/item/how_gratitude_changes_you_and_your_brain 

So why write? Can writing help you more than just thinking about gratitude?  

BENEFITS OF WRITING

Why do you write down important things? Because it helps you to remember. Right?

Similarly, practicing gratitude in the form of writing a journal helps you remember to be grateful throughout your day. It helps you tolerate frustrations. It develops an attitude of gratitude and a positive mindset. 

So go ahead and start your gratitude practice today in whatever way that works for you. (Continue if you have already begun to). It will help you feel happier, less depressed, and heal faster. Whether you need to heal from physical injuries or emotional loss. 

Let me know how it works for you. I love to hear back from readers as it inspires me to continue to do more.

Dedicated to your health and happiness,

Dr. Rozina

P.S: Would you like to get the Stress to Joy Guided Gratitude Journal to help you start your gratitude practice? Or to gift someone dear to you? 

Order today at https://www.stresstojoy.com/gratitudejournal. 

Start enjoying all the benefits of a gratitude practice- heal faster and feel happier despite ups and downs of life).

Dedicated to your best health and happiness,

Dr. Rozina

www.drrozina.com

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The Stress to Joy® program is available in

 

The Stress to Joy® program is available in

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Online Course

Guided Gratitude Journal

 

I share many tools and techniques that I have found to be helpful. They are not intended to replace treatments. Please seek treatment from licensed medical or health professionals as needed. I change all names for privacy.

 


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DR ROZINA

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STRESS TO JOY™ by DR. ROZINA


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