Gratitude – A Tool for Positive Thinking

By June 20, 2017Blog

Despite recent lofty, philosophical attempts to define my life and why I’m here (which has been interesting), this morning as I sit down to write this blog I’ve got nothing.

Nothing but for the sharp radiating pain at the tail of my spinal cord. It’s awful. I’ve never experienced this level of back pain. I feel immobilized and am fearful I’ve done something relatively serious to myself. Whoa is me.

I’m also annoyed that I can’t take anything for the pain. Today, June 20th, I celebrate one year clean from non-essential medications. I take my psych meds but nothing even close to addictive in nature. Nothing illegal and nothing ill prescribed.

My standard operating procedure during these times of angst and frustration is to take stock of my many blessings and give thanks. It’s a robust list; this positivity-inducing exercise always works for me.

So here goes:

I have a large family, spread across the country and beyond. I’ve lived a full life complete with lots of travel and the meeting of fabulously interesting people. These experiences have made me who I am. I’m a happy, positive person who loves life. When things look bleak, I have the support that helps me pull myself from the darkness. Holding up the mirror, my reflection is healthy and beautiful. My family is amazing. I have a husband who loves me – for real. Even when I’m bat shit crazy, he stands strong. Our son is a true miracle. Many think having a child while managing bipolar disorder can’t be possible. Daniel defies this thinking – and thrives (knock on wood). I’ve managed to create a new family in our new town. Our friends are an awesome cast of characters. Accepting myself and me in my skin is a gift.

I could go on – a great therapist, for example. That’s clutch. Modern technology keeping us well and if not better connected to close knit family is another good one. Never mind that we have a stable home with beautiful flowers often blooming in the yard. Our fridge is generally well stocked and there are two cars in the driveway. My 12 year-old wagon is adorned with a bevy of bumper stickers. I never imagined myself the bumper sticker type. Overcoming a long standing, self-made image of myself … love this one. I happily sold my professional wardrobe and signed up for a yoga pant-wearing Mom lifestyle. I don’t wear yoga pants often, but you get the gist. I recently found the focus to at least get through the prologue of a trashy novel that I hope to read poolside while Daniel takes swim lessons and plays with neighborhood friends. I no longer obsess about email and social media. I check my phone every once in a while. If there’s a text or two I might put if off until I can focus and reply thoughtfully. I’m beyond grateful for all this wonderfulness and more – and delighted to report that these positive realities in my life are miracles worthy of frequent note.

When you’ve defied the odds and continue to survive mental illness – both bipolar I disorder and addiction, it’s relatively easy to put aside a little back pain. It feels easy to take a deep breath, slow down and remember who you are and what miracles have firmly planted you in this world. I could write for hours about the realities and functions behind these reasons for gratefulness, but for this morning I’ll allow them to give me the power to say &*$^ you back pain and move on to it being a beautiful day in the neighborhood. And check this out – I’m a year clean today. Will wonders ever cease?

Each and every one of us is a miracle for our own reason. Take a minute to jot down your gratitude’s. The practice can turn the negatives to positives and I believe make the pain – both physical and mental – a little more manageable. Since the time it’s taken me to type out this list, the pain has subsided. Maybe I’m just distracted. Maybe the pain isn’t as bad as I thought. I really don’t care. I feel grounded and centered in this moment. The cuckoo clock is ticking in the dining room. My feet are cold. It’s almost 100 degrees outside. I’ll take chilly toes today.

 

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