Note by Dr Suraj Manjunath: This is a guest post by Haripriya Suraj, a Reiki Practitioner with a special interest in integrating wellness therapies with modern medicine. The article explores the role of ‘Gratitude’ as a coping strategy for cancer patients, and also shares practical tips on how to cultivate an attitude of gratitude.
These are two common words we all use in our day-to-day interactions. We most often utter them when someone wishes us well or helps us.
But do we ever say thank you to the rising sun?
A blooming flower?
For food and water?
For the love and support of our dear ones?
Feeling thankful for things we usually take for granted can help us cultivate a sense of contentment as we move through life.
But how can one feel thankful in the aftermath of a challenging diagnosis such as cancer?
How can one feel grateful for anything at all while dealing with pain?
How can one feel good, knowing an uncertain future lies ahead?
Is it realistic to say ‘thank you,’ when all you’d rather do is scream ‘Life is not fair?’
It’s easy to be thankful when life is smooth. Not so easy when challenges present themselves. Ironically, if we can bring ourselves to feel grateful in the face of trying circumstances, life can feel smooth again. We smell roses where once only thorns pricked. The thorns continue to be present and they may still prick from time to time. But now that we also see the roses, the thorns don’t bother us as much as they did.
This is what gratitude can do to the heart and soul!
How To Develop A Gratitude Practice
An effective way to practice gratitude is to have a personal journal for writing statements of gratitude and to begin the day with this practice. Every morning, open your journal and make a note of at least ten things that you can easily feel thankful for. This practice can set the tone for the rest of the day and help you sustain a positive frame of mind.
Your points can be a mixture of general and health-related gratitude statements.
You may have received a challenging diagnosis or be in the midst of difficult treatment. But you are much more than the diagnosis, illness, or treatment. Life is still on and this is just a temporary phase you are in. So, keep your focus on the big picture and jot down your appreciation for the little things that make life beautiful.
You may not be in the best of health at the moment. However, even during this difficult time, there will be certain aspects of your health that are working well. Give some credit to everything in your body that’s functioning just fine by saying ‘thank you.’
Here is a list of sample gratitude statements to help you get started. You may use these if you like or create new ones that you connect more with.
- I am grateful for another beautiful morning. Thank you.
- I am grateful for my breath. Thank you.
- I am grateful for the plants and trees around me. Thank you.
- I am grateful for the birds that sing outside my window. Thank you.
- I am grateful for the presence and support of my loved ones. Thank you.
- I am grateful for clean water to drink. Thank you.
- I am grateful for my comfortable bed and blanket. Thank you.
- I am grateful for the book/music that keeps me company. Thank you.
- I am grateful to God/Higher Power/Universe for supporting me. Thank you.
Body & Health
- I am grateful to all my sense organs for helping me experience the world around me. Thank you.
- I am grateful to my hands, legs, and spine for supporting me in many ways
- I am grateful to my heart for nourishing my body. Thank you.
- I am grateful to my lungs for helping me breathe. Thank you.
- I am grateful my surgery went well. Thank you.
- I am grateful for all the medications and treatments that are helping me get better. Thank you.
- I am grateful for the expertise and support of my healthcare team. Thank you.
- I am grateful for how far I have come and for all the successes along the way. Thank you.
For maximum impact, ‘feeling’ thankful is key. Just writing or saying gratitude statements mechanically may not have the same impact as actually feeling their essence within your heart.
If you write that you are grateful for a new morning – pause, close your eyes, and take a moment to soak in the gift of a new morning. Feeling it is living it!
May your cup overflow with infinite blessings to be thankful for!
Wishing you good health and happiness.