The exercise of counting your blessings is always worth practicing, but everybody has already heard the advice, and so many people are too cynical to try things they think are old hat. Rose colored glasses are seldom a real solution, but changing how we look at things can make a huge difference.
It’s really all about chemistry, and habits.
Making the choice to be grateful modulates our happy chemicals to our advantage. We’re grateful when we realize that there’s more than one way of thinking about things.
We can almost hear you thinking.
It’s very easy to discount the advice to deliberately practice being grateful. Maybe it’s easier to list complaints, and gripe about things which could be improved. Most of us have plenty of bad habits like this, don’t we?
Gratitude is sometimes like a short-term miracle cure for a temporarily funky mood, but sometimes when we humans try to count our blessings we find ourselves slipping into bad habits. We count a blessing or two. Then we revert to listing our complaints, or our worries. This is a sure sign we’re out of practice at blessing counting.
A to-do list can be very useful, and we might include on our list problems which need to be fixed, but counting problems isn’t the exercise here.
Sometimes the best we can do is to be thankful we’re aware of how many things need to be fixed, or compare our challenges with the problems of someone worse off than us.
I may not have shoes, but I have feet.
I may be in trouble, but I’m alive.
Finding solutions is often a huge project, but problems give us something to do, and can keep us occupied, and useful to ourselves and others. Maybe we can be grateful for some of our problems?
Rose colored glasses aren’t much help.
At TMS Augusta we help people suffering from serious brain diseases such as depression. We know how hard it can be for depression’s victims to change their focus. It’s difficult, maybe impossible, for clinically depressed people to get past all the barriers the disease imposes until they receive the very best professional help.
Trying to balance our list of complaints with our gratitude list can be helpful to just about anyone who makes the effort.
If we’re not in the habit of being grateful it can be a hard trick to learn.
We are not pretending gratitude fixes everything, but why not give it a try?
Clinical depression isn’t cured by making a gratitude list, but it can be a start. Simply shifting our focus from the negatives to the positives of life doesn’t eliminate life’s problems. Still, we encourage everyone – including the people we treat for the brain disease known as depression – to practice the exercise of listing those things for which they are grateful.
Why is it so important?
It’s simply a matter of chemistry!
Counting our blessings can be an instant boost to our happy chemicals. We think people making the effort to be grateful are making a noble effort. We’re grateful for what they’re doing. We know that they are practicing a skill which improves through practice.
It takes practice because our happy chemicals are short acting. Even when we practice enough to develop world class happy chemical habits we have to continue to practice many times every day. It gets easier, but it doesn’t become automatic, and happy chemicals are never permanent.
Anything – gratitude, exercise, meeting our goals, etc. – which increases our happy chemicals has to be repeated over and over. We do ourselves a favor when we engage in repetitive practices which can help improve our mood. We also have to stay away from some things which feel good, but are harmful.
Fortunately, healthy practices which help us feel happier can be turned into habits when we practice them enough. You’ll find many articles on this website to help you learn to make friends with your happy chemicals.
We are grateful for the opportunity to provide the revolutionary new treatment called TMS. It is a fabulous tool to help remove our patient’s stumbling blocks to happiness, but we want all of our patients to develop more effective happy chemical management skills. All of us can improve no matter what our current skills might be.
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