Well, I'm back home in Kansas after three weeks of Army Reserve duty in Virginia. People keep asking if I'm glad to be home and I end up hesitating before I answer...sounds like a bad sign doesn't it? Well, I'm just being honest. Let me share why I hesitate. I hesitate to answer because I'm naturally glad to be home, however, it is also means back to reality. Three weeks of only having to be responsible for me and the baby growing inside of me was kind of nice. No mounds of laundry to wash, dry and fold, no trying to figure out what prepare for dinner, no lunches to pack for school, no trying to get small people in bed who'd rather implement stalling tactics, no 18 stairs to climb to get from our downstairs to our upstairs (which gets tougher the bigger the baby gets)...all of those things I enjoyed having a break from. Oh, and I can't forget, my husband has had to travel quite a bit this year, and keeping the household running solo can be exhausting. In fact, he came home from three weeks away just two days before I left for Virginia; I really needed a break. My hat is off to single parents and parents who have a spouse deployed serving our country abroad.
You're probably wondering, so what does any of this have to do with healthy living. Are you familiar with Brene Brown? She's a scholar, researcher, and speaker who studies shame and vulnerability and I came to know of her by her TED Talk on those same subjects. Anyhow, while I was away from home I began listening to The Power of Vulnerability Teachings on : Authenticity, Connection, and Courage on Audible. I've still got about 3 hours left until I finish, but as I listened today I was reminded of one of the chief reasons I started to keep a gratitude journal a year ago or so. Here's what Dr. Brown said:
"I have never, in 12 years, interviewed a single person who described themselves as joyful, their lives as joyous, or described the ability to lean into joy who did not actively practice gratitude. Across the board, the one difference they had from the rest of us is they actively practice gratitude."
Each day, I do my best to write down three things I am grateful for. Have a missed some days here or there? Of course I have, but I get back on track and resume journaling what I am grateful for.
Based on other reading I've done, the research shows that people who practice gratitude benefit over and over again from:
- stronger immune systems (seriously, who would turn one of those down??)
- acting with more generosity and compassion
- feeling less lonely
- more JOY, optimism, and happiness
(Check out studies by Dr. Robert A. Emmons and Dr. Michael E. McCullough)
So, how can you get started? It's simple! Grab an empty notebook, it doesn't have to be fancy or expensive, and commit to starting with capture 3 things you are grateful for at least 3 days a week. Begin each day with capturing them with a grateful heart. If you're like me, and have some Thank You notes to write and put in the mail, knock those out before the week is over! Placing our focus on the positives in life doesn't allow us much time for the negative! So, give it a shot! Why not?!?
What I'm thankful for today:
1. That my parents have always been supportive of my siblings and me. My mom came and cared for our children while I was away and my husband was working and my dad supported her efforts even though it took her away from home for about a month.
2. That I got an important call back today which is paving the way for a prayer that's been on my request list for some time now.
3. That my husband graduates from his program and comes home tomorrow!
* My bonus gratitude today is for being blessed with ALL of the things I got to take a short break from. I'm thankful that my family has clothes that turn into mounds of washing and folding. I am thankful for the 18 stairs in our house because it means we are able to live in the house we selected to buy. I am thankful for the ability to buy the food required to prepare dinner and lunches. I am thankful for our health.
1 Chronicles 16:34
Give thanks the Lord, for he is good; his love endures forever.
Allison Marschean is a wife and mother of 7 year old twins girls and a 15 month old baby girl who is kicking an autoimmune disorder to the curb with food and fitness, all while living her dimensions!