According to Google Dictionary, A game changer is defined as “an event, idea, or procedure that effects a significant shift in the current manner of doing or thinking about something.” Gratitude, for me, was such a thing as I struggled through deep depression from bipolar disorder.
While we are looking up definitions, why not take a look at Gratitude? This is defined by Google Dictionary as “the quality of being thankful; readiness to show appreciation for and to return kindness.”
Could something as simple as being thankful, really be a game changer? I will attempt to illustrate just how this worked in my life. Who knows? Maybe you will find it to be that “ace up your sleeve” that will help you turn a corner in your recovery from significant depression.
If you have been reading my posts, you know that my most recent episode of bipolar depression caused me intense mental pain and a feeling of being in deep darkness. I also had many physical manifestations of my depression. I had excessive weakness and fatigue that caused me to wonder if there was a serious physical medical problem going on. To say that I felt overwhelmed by what I was experiencing is an understatement. I was emotionally drowning in tidal waves of hopelessness. I felt completely inadequate to handle what was happening. I finally got on needed medications and this helped to just take the edge of of what I was feeling, but I was still suffering. On top of this I felt very negative about who I was.
Everything was terrible. It was too hard for me to bear. I would never make it through. There was nothing to be glad about. These were my thoughts at this time.
I went on like this for a period of months–I don’t remember how long now. But then, as I have recounted before, I had a moment where I realized something had to change. I had to change. I didn’t know how long this would be going on. Would my circumstances stay like this for 5, 10 years? Maybe the rest of my life? I certainly didn’t know. I just knew that if this was going to be a long haul, I wanted to do my best to be happy.
I couldn’t change my circumstances, but I could change me.
I had an epiphany, of sorts–I decided to try cultivating an attitude of gratitude. It was difficult, at first. I had to look deeper than I was accustomed to looking. I decided, that my way of cultivating an attitude of gratitude within me would be to say a prayer of thanks, any time I noticed something good in my life. I have heard others say that having a notebook handy to record a positive occurrence in your life, works as well.
I would acknowledge any good thing, no matter how small.
For example, I recall a time I was headed to the dentist, but I was running late. I had green lights at every intersection which sped my arrival. Now, in the past, I might had overlooked that, but because I was really trying to notice something–anything good–I saw positive things I would have missed otherwise.
Here’s another, more recent example. I had a short window time to do a little shopping. I headed to the thrift store–a hobby of mine– and found an armful of things. When I got ready to purchase my items, I realized that I was going to be late picking up my son from preschool, unless I had a very fast checkout. There was a problem, though–every line was long and each person in line seemed to have as many items to purchase as I did. I inwardly groaned. Thankfully, a new register was opened right next to me and I was invited to check out there. My checkout process was quick enough that I made it in time to pick up my son from school. Definitely something to be grateful for!
Now, maybe you are thinking–noticing a couple of good things isn’t going to do anything for me. And you might be right. But if you can start to notice and record all the little things going right each day, at the end of the day, you will quickly realize just how long the list is. It won’t be just one or two measly things, it will be dozens of small things that add up to this: there are many things going right in your life. That is what happened for me and I can assure you that you will notice the same!
It became my quest to look for the good things happening in my life. It still is. Being able to really look and notice the good, shifted my perspective from one of negativity and self-pity, to one of deep gratitude. Just imagine what it could do for you–if you could make it your quest to notice positive occurrences in your daily life.
I still had depression. I still struggled with negative thoughts and feelings. I still had difficulty coping with my life, but I was able to do so with gratitude. I could see the good. My attitude had changed and I endured with greater patience and greater peace.
Have you had experience with this? I would love to hear about it.
Before I conclude, let me share some things I’m thankful for today. Right now, I am really grateful that my son took a nap this afternoon, so that I can have some quiet time to myself. I am thankful I had hummus and veggies for lunch because it’s one of my favorite foods. I am thankful I got to go the gym today and use my favorite machine. I am grateful a good episode of “Fixer Upper” was on while I used the elliptical because it helped me get through my workout. The list can go on and on and on–It’s all in your perspective.
What will you notice today?