Small Changes……Part 1

Small changes can make a big difference in our outlook.

Judy and I have recently held a Macmillan HOPE course at Coppice Library. The course is aimed at supporting people who have been through cancer, or are living with it, to live well. HOPE stands for Helping Overcome Problems Effectively and it covers many of the issues that prevent us from getting on with life in a positive way.

One aspect of the course is for group members to keep their own Gratitude Diary. This entails making a daily record of things we are grateful from that day. And what do people with cancer have to feel grateful about, you may ask?  And certainly, many of our group bristled with the concept of being ‘grateful’; we were more comfortable calling it our ‘something to be glad about’, ‘happy because’, ‘thankful for’, or ‘pleased about’, diary.

So what is it about? A Gratitude Journal is simple – you write down a few things that you are grateful for every day. Some days it’s more difficult than others to think of something to write, but even the tiniest thing can be recorded.

And how does being grateful work? There are a number of reasons why we may benefit from keeping a gratitude journal:

  • It helps us to remember the positive, especially when it seems like there are only problems at our doorstep. It‘s a key action to help keep our heads above water even on the harder days.
  • It is a constant reminder that we always have something to be thankful for. When we are caught in the dramas of life, it can start to drag us down.  By separating ourselves from the hurly burly for a quiet moment, we can see things in a more subtle, less damaging, light.
  • It’s a reminder to give thanks for the people in our life. We have chosen these special people to be in our life, but so often we forget to tell them. A practice of gratitude will help remind us to tell them.
  • Our days are often made up of ordinary moments. Trying to find things to be glad about in these mundane instants creates positive feelings throughout an ordinary day
  • It reminds us of what’s important in life.  Sometimes we get so caught up in matters regarding our health and normal stresses in life that we take the good things for granted. Practicing gratitude reminds you of the all things that are truly important and those that are not so important.
  • It helps us to recognize what we want more of in our lives
  • When being thankful becomes a habit we begin to start looking for the good things in our day to day life, which has an uplifting effect on our mood.

Enjoy your gratitude journal!  It is an empowering gift to yourself, as you will end up with a collection of wonderful experiences and reasons why you love being you and why life is so special for you and those around you.

Glynnis Morris, Supportive Care Co-ordinator

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