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Finding the Best in the Worst

Updated: Nov 23

Hello,

In case you think 2022 has been the worst year ever, there is good news. Dr. Miles Pattenden, a Senior Research Fellow in Medieval and Early Modern Studies at Australian Catholic University said that the year 536 was truly the worst because that year there were “‘up to three big volcanic eruptions’” that “blocked the sun and impacted Europe and China's temperature, causing minimal natural light and ‘snow in the summer.’” The aftermath of this then led to a series of catastrophic events “including crop failure, famine, conflict, disease and countless fatalities.” Yikes! Since none of us were alive in 536, we lack the ability to say, “Well, at least it’s not 536!” or don our “I survived the volcanoes of 536” t-shirts.


As if the global pandemic of 2020 through 2021 wasn’t enough, with all of the shutdowns, restrictions, and worries, 2022 ushered in even more to be concerned about. Thus, it’s not surprising that 2022 has been difficult for many. As Rebecca Cox wrote a post called, “Survive The ‘Worst Year Ever,’”


We don’t know about you, but we’re feeling '22. And by that, we don’t mean young, free, single and ready to write a song about an ex-crush. In fact, the only crush we’re feeling right now is the crushing weight of the multiple impending crises that have been building since we lived through a near-miss apocalypse in 2020. We’re feeling '22 alright. Twenty-two and blue.

"Blue" can be generous when describing the emotions triggered this year. Cox continued, “As we tentatively come out the other side of the pandemic, those emotions are rising to the surface, compounded by fresh reasons to feel terrified and out of control: soaring energy bills, cost of living crisis, world affairs, climate anxiety, economic recessions and human rights rollbacks.”


Yet, here we are on the eve of the annual holiday season–a time that can have its own feelings of struggle, anxiety, and grief--regardless of the year. Though the holidays can be filled with joy, friends, and family–making it some peoples’ favorite time of year, “For others, it brings feelings of sadness and loss. Seeing old friends and family members may be exciting or may bring up memories of disappointments” writes Jessica Schrader in Psychology Today.


I’d be lying if I didn’t state that 2022 has been very difficult for me and for many people I know. With that, and considering the holiday season tends to start with Thanksgiving (my favorite holiday), I want to share ten simple ideas for how to become more grateful as found on Mindful.org (see below).

  1. Keep a Gratitude Journal. Establish a daily practice in which you remind yourself of the gifts, grace, benefits, and good things you enjoy. Recalling moments of gratitude associated with ordinary events, your personal attributes, or valued people in your life gives you the potential to interweave a sustainable theme of gratefulness into your life.

  2. Remember the Bad. To be grateful in your current state, it is helpful to remember the hard times that you once experienced. When you remember how difficult life used to be and how far you have come, you set up an explicit contrast in your mind, and this contrast is fertile ground for gratefulness.

  3. Ask Yourself Three Questions. Meditate on your relationships with parents, friends, siblings, work associates, children, and partners using these three questions: “What have I received from __?”, “What have I given to __?”, and “What troubles and difficulty have I caused?”

  4. Share Your Gratitude with Others. Research has found that expressing gratitude can strengthen relationships. So the next time your partner, friend or family member does something you appreciate, be sure to let them know.

  5. Come to Your Senses. Through our senses—the ability to touch, see, smell, taste, and hear—we gain an appreciation of what it means to be human and of what an incredible miracle it is to be alive. Seen through the lens of gratitude, the human body is not only a miraculous construction, but also a gift.

  6. Use Visual Reminders. Because the two primary obstacles to gratefulness are forgetfulness and a lack of mindful awareness, visual reminders can serve as cues to trigger thoughts of gratitude. Often times, the best visual reminders are other people.

  7. Make a Vow to Practice Gratitude. Research shows that making an oath to perform a behavior increases the likelihood that the action will be executed. Therefore, write your own gratitude vow, which could be as simple as “I vow to count my blessings each day,” and post it somewhere where you will be reminded of it every day.

  8. Watch Your Language. Grateful people have a particular linguistic style that uses the language of gifts, givers, blessings, blessed, fortune, fortunate, and abundance. In gratitude, you should not focus on how inherently good you are, but rather on the inherently good things that others have done on your behalf.

  9. Go Through the Motions. Grateful motions include smiling, saying thank you, and writing letters of gratitude. By “going through grateful motions,” you’ll trigger the emotion of gratitude more often.

  10. Think Outside the Box. If you want to make the most out of opportunities to flex your gratitude muscles, you must look creatively for new situations and circumstances in which to feel grateful. Please share the creative ways you’ve found to help you practice gratitude.

While 2022 is almost over (and I’m thankful for that), I will still be the same person with the same circumstances in 2023. Thus, rather than try to blame 2022 for being the worst year yet, I am hopeful that through practicing gratitude I will be grateful for the year that was, who I am, and who I will become.


~Heather


P.S. I have two catches this week. The first is a video on the science behind gratitude and the second is a funny video about being grateful. Enjoy!





P.P.S. Please remember to...

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