Dr. Ducharme’s Blog Gratitude as a Choice May 22, 2017

I had a birthday this week. It was kind of a big one and I was having a bit of trouble figuring out how that number could actually be me. That number is for old people. I suspect my husband might even say there were a few moments I was a bit cranky about the whole thing.

Then, the night before my birthday we watched the film Walking with the Enemy. It is about what happened in Hungary during World War II. For a long time people thought they were safe: Jews, Gentiles…they were all Hungarian. And then all of that changed. Most Jewish young men were identified and sent to work camps. Many died there. With the men out of the villages, women and children were rounded up and send to concentration camps where so many were gassed. The movie is based loosely on the life of one brave Jewish man who pretends to be a Nazi and manages to save 1000’s of Jews. Needless to say I cried a lot through the movie.

But…and this is big…watching that movie brought my life back into focus. It was only seconds before I realized how grateful I was that I was turning a year older. That I have the wonderful opportunity to be with my family and watch my children and grandchildren grow. That I have an amazing husband who I can see and be with every day. That I have incredible friends. I am blessed. I clearly have a choice about how I view this birthday and (hopefully) the many more to come.

When I think about all this, I am reminded about the choices we make every day. We can choose to focus on the negative or decide to embrace what is good in our lives. We can focus on all the laundry that needs to be done or look out the window at the lilacs and forsythia in bloom. We can be upset at what we don’t have or be grateful for what we do have. And we can make these choices every day…even before we get out of bed. We can decide to look for and find the good. For it is out there. maybe not always  main headlines in the news (so, I often turn it off) or even on social media. If I can’t find pictures of cute puppies or beautiful photos I often choose to escape the electronics and chat with my husband, kids or friends. I may read a book or go for a walk. Even getting on my elliptical machine and watching a silly comedy for an hour is a healthy opportunity for which I am grateful.

So, after you read this blog, take a few minutes and think about how you want to approach the rest of your day. Do you want to focus on what is bad, or frustrating? Or do you want to find the nuggets of good. Certainly I know this is not always easy. And we all go through difficult times. But people who are resilient and enjoy life tend to be those for whom daily gratitude is a definite practice. And with a little practice, gratitude can become a habit.

More from Dr. Elaine Ducharme
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