Have you ever been told “you have a bad attitude” or “you need an attitude adjustment!”
Our behavior and how we think and feel about things (let’s say, 2020, for example) can make or break us. For some, you may feel that 2020 is legit a dumpster fire and you will never recover. There might be days where you live in the land of negativity and fear.
When we face adversity, we find ourselves doing a few things…worrying, panicking, focusing on negatives and losing sight of what is going well or what we are lucky to have in our lives. I do this. We may all do this. Heck, I’d say in 2020, we’ve all been doing this.
I tend to have a love/hate relationship with the VA (for numerous reasons I won’t get into here on this post because, gratitude), but every so often there’s something that really resonates with me.
The VA has a blog and one of the posts was about Gratitude Practice. I read through it and watched a video from the whole health program (which Sam has participated in), and thought, “well, crap. I needed that.”
Gratitude is an attitude of thankful appreciation.
I immediately started thinking of things I was grateful for.
- My three kiddos
- My family
- Our health
- Our home
- Food on the table
- Friends near and far
- Colleagues and coworkers
- A good job
- Our dogs (even when Archie got away)
- My Bible
- Technology (yes, I said it)
- Movie or TV nights
I could go on and on…but the more I was “listing” in my head, the more overwhelmed with emotion I became. My stress level has been high over this entire pandemic. I have adapted to a new job, and learned most of it remotely. I had to adapt to teaching fully remote (which I was accustomed to, but using video features more often). Our kids spare room/guest room/tv room became a mini office area for the kids so they could do school remotely. We had health scares in our family, we stopped doing things normally, and became grocery pick up people, online shoppers, and intense cleaners of the house and all things that went to and from work.
Negative thoughts would cross my mind. “Do we have enough hand sanitizer?” “Did I make a mistake by putting Oliver, Caden, and Kirsten in the car when I went into a store?” “Is Sam overwhelmed with work or the pandemic?” “I did not cook a decent meal tonight.”
I had moments where I wanted to scream and I wanted to cry.
And this blog showed me that those moments are totally normal now. We are navigating life in a pandemic, folks! Our eating habits, our sleeping patterns, our behaviors and life choices have changed drastically during this time (Hoekstra house included, here).
Research shows that taking time to think, feel, or write about what you are grateful for can be beneficial to physical and mental health. I know what you might be thinking, “But you write all the time, this is so easy for you.” Uh, no, no it was not. Because I really stumbled and thought about how lucky I am and how blessed our family is that I had tears.
Gratitude practices have been linked to improving social connections–give you healthier relationships, improved physical health, movement, and increased acts of kindness. These things, these good things decrease our stress, anxiety, and renew us in a way that gives us energy to focus on the good.
So I decided I need to focus on the good more often.
I need to be grateful every day.
I am going to reach out to friends and show random acts of kindness.
I am going to start practicing gratitude.
Journaling and writing work best for me. I was just talking with a coworker the other day about written notes and stationary. I love writing (and pens, paper, you get the idea), and I have decided I am going to write more notes and send out cards, because everyone could use a little snail mail these days.
I love reading and I love podcasts. I am going to make it a point to read more (for fun, not for work) and find new and interesting podcasts to listen to on lunch or while I am cleaning.
There are so many benefits to adjusting your attitude to have an attitude of gratitude, give it a try! The more you can include in your daily life, the more you will feel better and make long-lasting impacts on your overall whole health and well-being.
So, as we prepare to gather for what will no doubt be an usual and possibly even virtual Thanksgiving, try thinking of what you are most grateful for and what you appreciate, not just around the holiday but every day.