Gratitude and Depression
“Count your blessings, not your crosses,
Count your gains, not your losses.
Count your joys instead of your woes,
Count your friends instead of your foes.
Covet your health, not your wealth.”
One of the most effective mental health recovery tools I have encountered is practicing gratitude. At first, the idea of practicing gratitude when being depressed may not make sense. I have heard clients tell me–”I am in the hell of depression–what do I have to be thankful about?” My answer is that if you look hard, you will find something. For example, you might identify a few simple blessings, such as, “The sun is shining,” “I have a roof over my head,” “I have enough to eat,” My body is in reasonable health,” “I have a good friend,” “I feel love for my child,” and so on.
When we give thanks, we automatically focus our attention on what is working in our life instead of what is not working. This shift in perception actually changes brain chemistry and counteracts the negative thinking that is the hallmark of depression. Perhaps this is why a wise man said, “When you learn to love hell, you will be in heaven.”
What would it be like if you began each day by asking, “What is beneficial in my life right now? What can I be grateful for? What or who is working to support me in my health and healing?” There is a spiritual law that says, whatever you focus on expands. As you pay more attention to the good in your life, you will notice more and more of that good–and through the law of attraction, you will attract more good to you.
Expressing gratitude does not mean denying pain or uncomfortable feelings. It doesn’t mean that you’re not in the darkness. But it does help you to recognize those points of light that exist in the darkness.
Try this gratitude exercise. At the end of the day, write down an event that went well, or something you are grateful for (see if you can come up with three). Do this for 21 days. At the end of three weeks, you may feel a bit lighter or more optimistic. To support this process, you can place something by your bedside (an object, a photograph, an affirmation, etc.) that helps to instill a feeling of gratitude. As you set aside time each day to give thanks, you will notice the presence of grace even during difficult times.
I wish you the best in your healing journey.