Week 1. Be GratefulOne of my first clients in Hungary was a 83 year old man. There is a Holocaust memorial in Budapest called the ‘Shoes on the Danube bank‘ which stands for the 800 Jews who were shot into the river by Arrow Cross militiamen between 1944 and 1945. The memorial is extremely moving and you have a shiver cold breeze in the air when you walk slowly by the shore. Those little shoes are filled with stones and flowers which are laid by family members, relatives, friends and tourists. There is not much of a sign or big explanation but the memorial speaks for itself. My client survived that shooting 3 times with his parents. The third time, they were standing in the third row. The first row of people were shot and fell into the Danube. The second row of people were shot and also fell into the Danube. Their row stepped forward and as they were waiting his father turned to one of the leaders and offered his golden watch in exchange for his family’s life. Out of a miracle (or so my client called it), they let them go and they ran away. Years passed by and he decided to follow his father’s footsteps and become a lawyer. To become one of the best lawyers in the country specialising in medical misconduct. Protecting the patient. He told me ‘Viktoria, those times taught me to be grateful for every single breath and I want to dedicate my life protecting the ones who have become victims…’ I sensed a connection between his story and his dedication to protect those who cannot protect themselves because what had happened to them was out of their control. I understood his life goal and I was humbled by him and how strong, kind and grateful he still was to this day. So how can one stay grateful and appreciative like him? Studies show that people who take regular stock of the good parts of their lives feel happier about themselves and they are actually less anxious and depressed. Making time for gratitude forces you to pay attention to things you take for granted, this could be even things like your eyesight or that the sun is shining….as those little things have the power to make you happy.
TIP:Keep a gratitude journal on your bedside table or on your desk.
- In the morning for 1 minute: write down 3-4 things you are grateful for (e.g. sunshine, coffee, your pet, you have a job you can go to, you get to wake up next to your partner)
- Throughout the day: when you have a stressful situation, PAUSE and try to look for something positive and write that down. (e.g. Pff..I have to work one more hour….Yay! I will miss the rush hour traffic!)
- Before going to bed for 2-3 minutes: write down 3-4 things that happened that day that you are grateful for. (e.g. someone complimented you, you got lucky and got a parking spot easily, you saw a hedgehog in the garden etc.)
Who are 3 people that I can be grateful to have in my life and why?
What are 3 things I can be grateful for about myself?
Look outside and see anything you are grateful for?
Look at a photo and say why you are grateful for that memory.The great benefits of gratitude journaling are deeper sense of calm, lower stress level and a new level of clarity. You are going to explore and learn more about yourself in the process and gain a fresh perspective that allows you to recognize blessings in disguise.