A tool for practicing gratitude

November 28, 2020

Many of us recently celebrated Thanksgiving, a time to reflect upon things for which we are thankful. It is a time to really focus on gratitude, which got me thinking about how we can begin doing this more often in our lives. Gratitude can serve so many purposes. It can help us feel more positive emotions, relish good experiences, better handle adversity, and build strong relationships among other healthy things.

To practice gratitude, in my coaching practice I often ask people to make a list of things for which they are grateful. Most people make a list that mainly includes the big things in their lives, such as family, friends, work, home, food, car, etc. These are all very important, but to practice gratitude on a deeper level, it helps to really break down those big things into smaller things. In other words, take one of those big items and list the reasons you are grateful for them. Really get into it.

We can do the same for things we never think about too often, if at all. Like a pen, for example. It may sound silly, but think about how much a pen helps us, such as the ability to write a grocery list or a reminder note or a letter to a friend, the varied colors available to us for a creative project, a click option or a cap option, etc.

How about electricity, indoor plumbing, lightbulbs, refrigeration, a garbage can, WIFI, the moment we approach a light on the road and it turns green, the parking spot right next to the store, a grocery store with everything (and more) that you could ever want and need, etc.? When is the last time you found yourself being thankful, and literally saying “thank you” for things like this? There is so much we take for granted.

I recently cut my index finger on my non-dominant hand and had to put tape over the band-aid to keep it from sliding off. For the next few days it got in the way a lot, making me realize just how important this finger is for SO many things! This was not at all the first time I have had to do this, but this time I really paid attention to how much it got in the way and how much I take my body and its amazing abilities for granted.

Our body is incredible beyond words and we often don’t think just how remarkable it is and how well it works for us, especially if we have a health issue (I have had a painful neurological movement disorder called dystonia for 20 years and can relate to this very well). When we have a health issue, the problem with our body is often the only focus, but there are SO many other things going well with our bodies that are easily forgotten.

That being said, take some tape and wrap it around the tip of one of your index fingers for one day (see the image below for the section to apply it). Tape it so your first knuckle on your finger is covered so you can’t fully bend the top portion. See how it feels to do different activities that day. I bet you find that it gets in the way of so many things. If we take this one inch of one of our 10 fingers for granted, imagine how many other things about our body, and the rest of our lives, we also take for granted.

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Tom Seaman is a Certified Professional Life Coach in the area of health and wellness, and the author of 2 books: Diagnosis Dystonia: Navigating the Journey (2015and Beyond Pain and Suffering: Adapting to Adversity and Life Challenges (2021). He is also a motivational speaker, chronic pain and dystonia awareness advocate, health blogger, volunteer for the Dystonia Medical Research Foundation (DMRF) as a support group leader, and is a member and writer for Chronic Illness Bloggers NetworkThe MightyPatient Worthy, and The Wellness Universe. To learn more about Tom, get a copy of his books (also on Amazon), or schedule a free life coaching consult, visit www.tomseamancoaching.com. Follow him on Twitter @Dystoniabook1 and Instagram. 

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6 responses to “A tool for practicing gratitude”

  1. Deborah Seminerio says:

    Hi Tom, I have to say I’m thankful for you also – you’ve been very inspirational to me over the years since first met you when I was diagnosed – 12 years now and I have always been a positive person but sometimes it certainly does get to you and you’re writings and attitude alway give me a lift. Lately I’ve been noticing little things that I just say “thank you Lord, Universe etc.” – even just someone holding a door open for at Dunkin, the smile from the owner when I go there, the little interractions that I have with my children and granddchildren that make me feel good – I count my blessings and try to remember to say “Thank you” ! There are so many little things in the course of just one day that if we just take notice of them certainly make a difference in how we feel and how our day goes! Take care ! Sincerely, Debbie

    • Tom Seaman says:

      Thank you so much for saying that about me Debbie!! That is so kind of you. Thank you also for sharing how you go about your day living so much in gratitude. It is truly amazing the difference it can make when we put it to practice. Thanks for being such a good friend for so long and be such a big support. Best wishes always!

  2. Barbara Elmlinger says:

    I’m very grateful for you, Tom! Thank you for this wonderful reminder. Not being able to use, even a little bit, one of our fingers, is a good example of small blessings that can add up.

  3. Sandy says:

    I really enjoyed this post! I will say that one of the gifts of chronic illness is that we recognize everything we have to be grateful for – and many of these are things that were otherwise easy to take for granted.

    • Tom Seaman says:

      I couldn’t agree more! Living with this condition for 20 years has really made me see how much I used to take for granted and how to not keep doing the same. I still do, but I am definitely more aware of really appreciating all I have and can do. I would never wish a chronic health condition on myself or anyone else, but what a gift it has been for both of us to learn so much from it.

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