The habit of being grateful

February 20, 2016

I felt like I was just one step ahead of a nasty cold all week. It finally caught up with me, though, and with a vengeance! Kind of been feeling miserable. In the middle of the night last night, after a rather bad session of tossing and turning and coughing and feeling sorry for myself, this popped into my head.

"Okay, ten things you're thankful for."

Asking myself this has become my go-to whenever I'm feeling even a little down or discouraged. 

For years I battled with untreated depression and anxiety, and this was one of the self-help methods I devised for myself. 

And even though I have since gotten help, and feel much better, I still maintain this practice of listing things I'm grateful for. It has become almost second nature. Even on really good days. On ordinary days. And especially on days when I'm feeling a little down.

I hope to make a little lemon marmalade when I feel better.
It's not Pollyanna-ish. I'm not saying to myself that whatever is upsetting me isn't real, or doesn't necessarily need attention. I'm just balancing out my perspective a little; reminding myself of all the good gifts I really do have.

And I've always thought it very important to list the "little," ordinary things, the "commonplace" blessings, not big, general things like "my family," "God," etc. Focusing on specifics helps us see better.

So last night, what was on my list? What did I feel grateful for at 1:30 a.m., coughing and blowing my nose?

** a comfortable bed with clean sheets in a spare room all to myself so I wouldn't disturb my husband

** a big box of Kleenex on hand (growing up, we used rather scratchy toilet paper -- why waste money on Kleenex? So, hey, after all these years, soft Kleenex still feels like a treat!)

** a husband who cooked dinner and built a nice fire for me to sit in front of that evening

** a daughter who had made a big pan of yummy brownies that afternoon

** gingerale and Zi-Cam and Day-Quil

** knowing I could sleep in because nothing was scheduled for the morning

** as I would be unable to go to the symphony tomorrow, being able to share those concert tickets with a friend and her daughter, and knowing this made her happy

** the feeling of clean pajamas

** hearing the wind roaring outside, and knowing we were all safely tucked up inside

** a butterscotch hard candy to soothe my sore throat

Whenever I make up these lists, it's so easy to come up with ten things. Sometimes I continue on, and I can usually get to 20 or 25 before I have to start thinking about it. This practice didn't "fix" the deep depressions in the past,  but it always helped to make me feel like there was at least something good around me. And this practice continues to help me notice and be thankful for all the many, good gifts I have every day.

Tracks in the snow -- this little critter (a vole?) is all over the place!
So many, many things . . . a chickadee at the feeder, a cup of steaming hot coffee, a good book to read, a phone call from a friend, a pretty new nail polish, piles of neatly folded clean laundry, dinner cooking in the crockpot, a new flower bud on the geranium wintering over in the living room . . . what's on your list of ten right now?

The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases;
His mercies never come to an end;
they are new every morning;
great is your faithfulness. Lam. 3:22-23

Linking with No Place Like Home.


  1. Beautiful post! I think that a habit of gratitude brings us joy. Here are some I would list: Getting to see gorgeous sunrises, A husband who loves and encourages me, An awareness of God's daily blessings, Good reading material always available, Garden canned goods in my basement, Parents who loved God, Grandchildren, Kids who love me, Springtime on its way, My Kindle, My coffee maker, My dog, My cat, Blogger friends who love God, etc. I could list many more, but I'll leave space for Others. PS I like your profile photo!

  2. That is such a good practice. My ten?
    A safe home
    A caring and loving husband
    Six beautiful grandchildren
    Fulfilling work
    Good friends
    A really good supper!
    A sunny day today - no rain
    Good friends
    The couple of hours I spent with my Dad today
    My good health

  3. Very wise post... I hope you feel well soon. xoxo Su

  4. Sure hope your cold passes soon and that you feel better. I am definitely a diehard fan of attitude of gratitude. Developing gratitude on a daily basis has greatly improved my life, too. Our attitude does, indeed, determine our altitude. Susan

  5. I hope you feel better soon. I loved reading your list as it makes me remember my own. It is the little things that can mean so much and family does come at the top!

  6. Dear Deborah:
    This is soooooooo true. You know, I thank God every night for a warm bed and I don't want to ever take it for granted, let alone food in my tummy. Really, for those of us born in the USA, we are blessed beyond the imagination of most of the world. I am thankful. This was a wonderful reminder!

  7. Dearest Deborah, your post was such a beautiful reflection of you and the admirable person that you are. Your thankful attitude during rough waters is such a sweet testimony and encouragement to many. Thank you!

    I truly hope you are feeling back to your normal self soon! Love and hugs sent your way!

  8. What a great post! I do hope you are all well real soon dear Deborah.

    I keep a 'thankful journal' that I write in to Jesus/God every day. When we are grateful, we start to see more things to be grateful for. The other day when I was working outside, I was thankful for gentle breezes, the warmth of the sun, birdsong, butterflies and bees, scents of flowers filling the air around me, the physical exercise and my little place here in s.e. FL.

    Have a lovely Sunday and be well ~ FlowerLady

  9. I totally agree, Deborah! I started keeping a gratitude journal this year to help me get into the habit of being thankful for all that I have.

    Feel better soon!

  10. An attitude of gratitude is such a lovely thing! I truly enjoyed your post this morning. My 10:
    This sounds gross but I totally thought this morning how thankful I am when I opened my bedroom door and found ONLY cat yack and not #2!! I've been dealing w/2 sick kitties for a few days now.
    2. My cozy bed
    3. Plenty of food in the house so I don't have to go out
    4. I accomplished my goal I started Thursday of going on a walk each day and I get to again today because So Cal weather is gorgeous!
    5. Pandora radio because I can listen to George Beverly Shea sing hymns this morning
    6. I can set my own schedule today
    7. Hot Tea and local honey
    8. Clean dishes
    9. a hot bath
    10. reading this blog today to start my morning off with joy and peace :) Thank you for that.
    God bless you.

  11. What a lovely, lovely post. I've learned, like you, to use that gratitude list whenever I feel out of sorts or down or unwell in body. It really helps to keep on top of moods and attitudes. And somehow makes the icky more bearable.

    I loved reading your list -- soft kleenex and fresh bedding would certainly be on my list too. Come to mention, just about everything on your list in some form or another has been on my own lists at one time or another. Those similar things bring consolation to us both, and I see from comments, to many of us.

    Wishing you a beautiful day as you rest and get well.
    Sending lemon-scented hugs,

  12. Hello Deborah, yes there are many things for all of us to be thankful for. I do hope that you are feeling better soon. Take it easy this week and be well.
    Hugs, Julie xo

  13. Ooh Deborah, I hope you'll feel better soon! While saying my prayers every night while in my warm bath, I think of three things that I was grateful for that day, and also one in which I've experienced God, through a person or an event. It is so important to remember to be thankful for, even through sadness or problems. Such simple pleasures bring so much joy, don't they?

  14. Dearest Deborah,
    Exactly and that's what I keep focusing on myself, even when in terrible pain. Not that it goes away but it will lift up your spirit and that does the trick on keeping body, mind and spirit in balance!
    I bet you have had times of depression when losing so many babies... All the pain in vain and dreams shattered but with perseverance you have managed. Now you can guide others for feeling better.
    Yes, such a nasty cold, and I'm telling you, in Europa, Asia or in the Americas, this winter cold is a BAD one that loves to linger and knock us down completely.
    We too did sleep in different rooms and yes, it is a blessing and something for being grateful for to be able to do so!
    You for sure will like friend Celia's musings about the subject. When she suffered severe brain injury it has helped here tremendously.
    The subject is: START A GRATITUDE JOURNAL?
    Wishing you a speedy recovery and hope you feel loved and cozy.

  15. My Ten...and timely too as I need to focus on something other than my shoulder pain!
    my husband
    our family, which includes our darling grandchildren!
    a roof over my head...decent shelter from the elements
    healthy food
    a good book to read
    a cup of hot tea
    something to look forward to
    something meaningful to do
    the attitude of gratitude

    I hope you feel better soon..

  16. Hope you are feeling better! Yes, we can always find things to be grateful for and it does change the way we feel! Loved your post! I needed the reminder today!

  17. Deborah, your thankful list is truly inspiring! We really do all have something to be thankful for. I hope you feel better soon. I shared a post over the weekend with the sweet little teacup you gifted me with in it. I am thankful for so many things and especially sweet blog friends like you! Praying your week is a good one and you're feeling so much better soon, my friend. Thanks for sharing with us.


  18. A beautiful post! I find gratitude my best way to feel good about life. I always feel better after counting my blessings.

  19. Hi Deborah, what a beautiful post. Your words so inspiring. Having a thankful list is so very important to me too. We all have something to be thankful for and to take notice does us good. Reflecting each day on the many blessings we are given great and small. Joy found in the little things always stand out to me.

    So hope you feel better soon. Prayers for you! xo

  20. Beautiful, really beautiful, Deborah. Yesterday when I was checking in at the doctor's office, I was handed the two pages long questionnaire on depression, gun ownership, etc. I must have rolled my eyes pretty well because she said, "Oh I can tell that you're not interested in doing that and you don't have to." Phew. I was in no mood for that. Now as I wait for the medications to kick in, I will think of your method of thinking of the good things in my life and there are many to praise God for. First off, my husband is doing the dishes right now. God bless him!

  21. I love your thoughts. They're good and sensible and spot-on awesome.

    Something to be thankful for? Your positive blog. Hugs and prayers for a fast recovery, sweet dear one. ♥

  22. Hello Deborah, I hope you are feeling a little better since you posted this. I think I had the same cold last week and I felt absolutely miserable. I wish I had this post to read then, it is so inspiring. Lovely things you have listed to feel grateful for. I love the idea of making a gratitude list when you are feeling down. Right now I am grateful that I am over that unpleasant cold! Take good care of yourself. Hugs xo Karen

  23. It's a wonderful habit and reminder. I do not feel sick anymore but have had a recent cold...I am on the third box of Kleenex right now, wondering where in the world it's all coming from; can my head really hold so much up there? :) But I can be thankful for A & D ointment under the nose and that I don't feel sickly and for everything around me, and on and on :)

  24. I'm thankful to have read this post. I, too, struggle with depression, especially near holidays. I appreciate your honesty and sharing. Your friendship is a blessing.


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