1. Choose Gratitude
“Those who are not grateful soon begin to complain of everything.”
–- Thomas Merton, Thoughts in Solitude
Years ago, I started keeping a “one line” journal, and part of what I kept track of was the best and the worst of each day. It didn’t take me long to realize it wasn’t very helpful to keep up with the worst, so I switched nearly 100% to just the positive. Even though I’ve had a life of generally positive and optimistic thoughts, this one little change ramped that up tremendously. I can’t remember the last time I had a “bad” day! Of course, since I look for the good, not the bad, I’m not saving bad memories to be remembered!
In a future post I’ll address the idea of keeping a gratitude journal but for now I’ll just mention that I have a simple system for taking notes of good things that happen each day, then also reviewing past good things as I start each day.
This sign sits in my office where I see it every day.
When I was young, I mostly accepted that good and bad things will happen each day that are out of my control, so bad days were inevitable. Then, through all kinds of influences, I learned that even if I couldn’t control the events, I could control my responses. I could choose to find the good in any situation. Imagine my surprise to discover this sort of thinking goes back to the Stoics, and probably before. A fascinating, easy, daily, read on this can be found in The Daily Stoic, https://amzn.to/3iwO3nJ
Observation (nothing scientific here, just personal observations): People I know who deal most with depression tend to focus on the bad things of the past. The happiest people I know find the silver lining in almost everything and regularly express gratitude. I don’t know that I can claim a cause/effect pattern here, but just in case, I choose gratitude every time!