Count Your Blessings:
Be thankful... even when things aren’t perfect

stress reduction articlesBy Nicky Vanvalkenburgh


Stop whatever you're doing right now. Things in your life may not be perfect, but what are you grateful for? Take a moment to reflect upon your blessings.

Being grateful will enrich the quality of your life. It will open your heart to joy and fill you with peace. It will increase your energy level and transform your perspective on life.


It’s easy to be thankful for the good things in life. Have you ever been grateful for hardships or challenges? That’s a tough one.


As a teenager, I broke my leg and arm in a car accident. I was in the hospital for six months, and wore casts for almost two years. During that time, I was also in a wheelchair, and walked with crutches.


I’d like to say that I responded to this challenge like a winner. Like a championship boxer, I was punching the air in victory. Nothing could get me down.


Truth be told, I was miserable. I spent a lot of time thinking about my car accident, and whether or not it could have been avoided. I thought about the “what-ifs” and “should-haves.” I over-analyzed to the point of absurdity. My reasoning became a good excuse for a pity party.


Why me? Life seems so (gasp!) unfair.


My perspective changed when I started to express gratitude. My left leg was broken, but it wasn’t amputated. Someday, I would walk again. My arm was also broken, but I could still write with right hand. My accident could have been a lot worse.


I reminded myself that tough times never last, but tough people do. Besides, I still had lungs that gave me breath, and my heart beats automatically. I have eyes that help me to see and enjoy the world around me. I taste with my mouth, smell with my nose, and feel with my fingers. There is still plenty of life left to live. This “big picture” filled me with optimism and hope.


Now that I’m an adult, I always remind my children to count their blessings. Even when you’re down, don’t give up. There is always a reason to have hope. When you find yourself discouraged, look at things from a perspective of gratitude. What can you be grateful for right now? By changing our focus to positive things (rather than the negative) we will feel much better about our circumstances.


Of course, being grateful is not to say that everything in our lives is perfect. It simply creates balance and equilibrium. Expressing gratitude also changes our focus. If you think about disappointments and what you don’t have, then you will feel unsatisfied and unhappy. If you're fully aware of your shortcomings and disappointments, but at the same time thankful for the good that has happened and for your chance to live, then you will not be bitter. Hope will spring up in your heart, and your perspective will change.


Pause for a moment and reflect upon the good things in life. Think about your blessings, and what you are grateful for. Whenever you're grateful, you're happy.


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