When you are going through a tough period in your life, sometimes the hardest time of the day is the morning. Isn’t it true that, if you are struggling with depression, you often wake up with that dreaded weight of worry and fear sitting on your chest? With the realization of another day, instead of the new day filling you with the joy of being alive, the heavy burden of facing a day with no job, no hope, makes you want to climb back under the covers and go back to sleep.
One way to begin a new day with hope and positive feelings is to start the morning reflecting on all of your needs that have already been met! That is, to begin with “an attitude of gratitude.” To move toward this way of thinking, your focus has to be on TODAY, not yesterday or tomorrow, but this present day, this present moment. How have your needs been met for NOW? Do you have a safe place to stay, food for today, clothes for the day, someone in your life to love, someone who loves you? Do you have good health; are you able to care for your personal needs independently? Do you have friends who will listen to you and support you? Think about all that you have in your life even before you get up.
Then, get up and make a list – on paper or on the computer — of all your “blessings.” You will probably think of even more as you sit and reflect.
Next, say, “Thank you!” Say thank you to a higher power, to yourself for getting this far, to someone who has helped you along the way, to someone who might never expect a thank you from you.
Now, move ahead in your day with an eye and ear and heart full of thankfulness for what you already have and be sure to keep yourself open to realize other “blessings,” or reasons for gratitude, throughout your day. You will be surprised at how positive your day will be.
When you go to bed, reflect on all the positive events of the day – think well about what was good during your day; what added to your joy or gratitude. Let go of the negatives and rest in the positives and you will probably fall asleep with a lighter heart – and you might awaken tomorrow with a less heavy weight of depression. Cultivate an “attitude of gratitude” every day upon waking and your step will become lighter, your face will be brighter and more cheerful and more hope will shine in your heart.
Mildred Barton is a Spiritual Director, practicing in Bucks County, Pennsylvania.