We’ve all heard the phrase, “count your blessings.” However, if you’re a long-term caregiver, some days it’s hard to show up and feel grateful. How can caregivers improve their attitude of gratitude? It turns out that you need to do a little bit more than just count those blessings.
The Role of Gratitude in Happiness
Many people have read the advice to keep a gratitude journal, observes Lara Kallander, a well-being coach with a master’s degree in positive psychology. Kallander points to Martin Seligman’s pioneering work in the field of positive psychology, where a team of researchers showed that taking time to recall the positive things that happen in your life has been shown to improve happiness. And while keeping track of things for which you are grateful is a good start, an important part of this process is to consider your role in making the blessing come about.
See Your Contribution
When you take time to think about why or how the event came about, you might see that you had some influence in making it happen, says Kallander. She offers this personal example of recovering from surgery. “As I rehabilitate, I could notice that my pain is very slowly improving, and simply be grateful for the improvement. I could also recognize that I’ve had a role in my pain improving by taking care of myself. In a related example, I’m grateful for the very effective medical team that helped me, and I can also recognize that I had a role in choosing them. Recognizing my own volition and the things that I have done to support these moments for which I’m grateful, helps me decide where to put future energy that is aligned with my values.”
Gratitude Phrases That Go Beyond the Blessing
Here are a few ideas for gratitude phrases that will help you recall the ways in which you have contributed to your blessings.
- “I am grateful for Lucy, my weekend caregiver. I was smart to accept her offer of help instead of trying to do it all myself.”
- “What a blessing our monthly Caregivers Meeting has been to me! I’m so glad I accepted Sue’s invitation to attend, even though I had reservations about leaving Gerry’s care to someone else while I attended the meeting.”
- “I am so grateful that Chad continues to improve after his car accident. I am thankful that I took the time to reflect so I could find the right words to encourage him to continue physical therapy.”
The next time you make a gratitude list, give yourself some credit for the role you’ve played in making the positive event come about. It will help you savor the wonderful feelings of these small moments in life and help you recognize what is important to you for a positive future.