Fit Fridays are about health and wellness, not just physical but mental, emotional, and spiritual as well. I heard some words this week that really spoke to me, the condensed version of the piece that touched me is-
“Health is not the absence of sickness, sickness is the absence of health…Happiness isn’t the absence of depression, depression is the absence of happiness…We can’t just fight depression, we have to proactively cultivate happiness.” -Mariann Williamson
This really spoke to me because it’s my truth. I struggled with depression for many years, sometimes more than others, and other times thinking I wasn’t. I realized I had to make a conscious decision that I wasn’t going to feed it any longer. My self-imposed victimization wasn’t serving me, all it was doing was cultivating the environment for the depression to grow deeper within me and take over more aspects of my life. The moment I decided to change the buffet I was serving my mind, I started getting different results. The effects were short-lived at first, but I knew that meant I needed to serve myself smaller portions more times a day.
I couldn’t let the events of my past prevent me from enjoying the present. I couldn’t let my insecurities rob me of experiences. I couldn’t let the years pass me by and let wrinkles be the only indication that life went on without me. I decided that dwelling in my sad story wasn’t bringing me happiness so I had to do something about it. I started serving myself gratefulness. This was before I knew anything about living a life of gratefulness so I did the best I could. In the beginning, it was especially hard. Although I had an epiphany during a breakthrough moment, I didn’t know how to go from chronic depression to being grateful.
I started off by listing all of the things I was grateful for. Most days reaching five things was an accomplishment. I found myself repeating things over the days because I couldn’t think of things I was grateful for. This was a mental exercise for me. I began to look at the world around me, something I realized I hadn’t done in a while. The more closely I looked, the more I realized how much I had to be grateful about. At first, I saw things that made me feel justified to serve up the old buffet, but then I realized that I could be grateful for those things not happening to me.
My list began to grow longer and longer, it got to the point I no longer had to be grateful that the misfortunes of others weren’t my own. I was consciously aware of the moments in my life I was grateful for. I was thankful for people, events, situations, things, feelings, conditions, weather. I got to the point I could find something to be grateful about in almost any situation! I practiced this multiple times a day every day! I understood that it was impossible for me to be anything less than grateful when that’s what I focused on. I found myself having to be in an almost constant state of gratitude to begin to feel a lasting shift. I stayed in that chronic state of gratitude for an additional three months for good measure. When I got to the point that I felt like I had tossed the last of the garbage I had been serving myself, gratitude became my staple dish.
For the past three years, I’ve been serving myself a healthy dose of gratitude regularly. The way I consume it has changed. It started with mental notes, that evolved and I began writing it down, which morphed into journaling. I also incorporated it into my daily routine by saying nothing but words of thanks while I showered each day. I have continued to express my gratitude verbally and I currently write as much about one thing that I’m grateful for that I can. Sometimes it’s a paragraph others it’s a thousand words. I know this isn’t going to be for everyone. There are going to be people reading this that feel this won’t work for them, they’re too depressed for this to work, they’re too damaged…I used to be that person. I’m not saying this is a cure-all, but if you’ve tried everything you can think of, if you want to get better but you don’t know how, what do you have to lose by giving it a try?
Have you given chronic gratitude a try? Think of something you’re grateful for, now list all of the reasons why on a piece of paper. What did you feel as you wrote down all of the reasons? Are you willing to give this a try? How long would you commit to practicing gratitude regularly? How many servings would you give yourself a day to start off? I’d love to hear your thoughts, feel free to share in the comments!