Last night I went to bed with the thought, cheesy though it may sound, that I need to count my blessings every day. This is obvious, right? We hear this all the time. There’s even a song about it! But, what I’m thinking is count the new blessings everyday. Because every day there is a new one. There is something. Even in the midst of the muck and mire, there is at least one new blessing a day.
Could be small, like seeing a hummingbird, or the first day of spring and a hyacinth peeks up out of the soil, or your mom found a great deal at Goodwill and she’s happy, or your favorite TV show is back on tonight, or Safeway had a sale on organic peaches. Something happens every day that is good. And, I say, instead of going over our list, the list of things we know we should be grateful for, let’s start with the new one from today. We all have that list. The list with the usual suspects, thanks for my family, my spouse, my kids, my job, my house, my car… It starts to sound like the acceptance speech at an awards show, right? “And, I’d like to thank Jesus…”
I suspect you’re probably like me, and your list isn’t that fresh. It’s one you know by rote. Like a prayer. I’m not knocking your list, I’m just saying, let’s try something different. Let’s focus on the new hits of sweetness that happen throughout our days.
Once, when I was 16, I was in a dreadful car accident. I caused it. I wasn’t paying attention, and I ran into another car. My tooth was pushed all the way back, my lip was swollen and bloody, I got whiplash, and worse, I totaled two cars! One of them was an innocent woman’s and the other was my stepmother’s. I promise you this: you never, ever want to total your stepmother’s car. But, if I were to reflect on that day while in the dentist’s chair having my tooth fixed, there were more good things that happened than bad. Just before the accident, while walking to the car, a cute guy said hi. And, I just finished volunteering for a really cool thing. It was a beautiful spring day. I had brunch with my grandparents, whom I adored. And, my favorite band was coming to town, and I got tickets. That day, I bought tickets to a U2 concert. All good things. Of course, later I had a bad car accident, cost my family a lot of stress and money, and destroyed a stranger’s car. But, on balance, several serious blessings that day. Oh, and what about these other ones? I was safe, the woman was safe, and all that really got damaged were two inanimate objects.
And, there is scientific proof backing me up on the value of counting blessings. We can turn around depression with a simple, focus on three new blessings a day, exercise.
As I was researching this idea of counting our blessings, I came across this piece by therapist and Positive Psychology expert Daniel Tomasulo, Ph.D., on PsychCentral.com. Dr. Tomasulo confirmed with science what I am experiencing in my life. Practicing gratitude regularly has created a profound shift for the better in my life.
“Consider the exercise called Three Blessings. It is already one of the classics in the field. This amazingly simple technique has been shown to have a powerful, positive effect on reducing symptoms of depression and anxiety, while simultaneously increasing a sense of joy and well-being.
The task is simple enough. As your day comes to a close, allow yourself to think about three things that happened during the day that you are most happy about, and why you believe they happened.
The simple elegance of this exercise is part of the appeal, and in some ways the stumbling block people may find difficulty overcoming. Could it really be that something so easy could have such profound results? The unequivocal answer is yes!
The outcome from doing this exercise is astonishing. Participants doing this exercise for one week increased happiness and decreased depressive symptoms for six months. “
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About the Author: Tania Van Pelt is the creator of Happiness Series. She is a writer and content creator, working in film, tv, and online. She wrote the popular lifestyle book "Ageless Diet," published in late 2015. And she is currently working on her next book. She also developed a sitcom pilot set in the restaurant business called "Employees Only TV" and is developing another web series comedy about Denver.