Count Your Blessings- Being Grateful can be a Powerful Anti-Depressant
When I was back in Africa a few years ago, walking the same path in that tiny village I grew up in, I realized how absolutely blessed we all are to live here in the USA. As a child, I was blessed to have an African village upbringing. I was surrounded by loving and caring adults, teens, and children, and truly lived the “it takes a village to raise a child” experience. We were totally free to go anywhere our legs or bicycle could take us, as long as we were going to school and home for dinner (I’ve never missed a meal so my parents didn’t have to worry about me wandering too far).
There are real stresses our children must navigate today and dangers out in most communities such that our children cannot be allowed to wander free. As a parent we may feel isolated as a result of this “loss of village”. Do everything you can to create a “village” of caring and concerned friends and family. Some do this with a church network, which is a really great way, especially if you are new to town or don’t have much family in the area. Creating play dates and joining community classes and talking to the other parents can lead to connections.
Back to my village. There is rarely electricity (most don’t have it at all). Clean running water is not available most of the time. There is no indoor plumbing, so you use an outhouse (hole in the ground). There are no stores within 20 miles along a washed out dirt path they call a road, that requires a truck or raised vehicle during the rainy season. No one in the village has a car. This type of existence, with no shelter, no electricity and no food is true for millions and millions of people across our planet.
An Action Suggestion:
Count your blessings, right them down and put them on your mirror where you brush your teeth. This is especially important is you are feeling depressed, anxious or overwhelmed. I might suggest you start with:
I have a roof over my head
I have food in my house
I have a house
I have electricity and water
I have plumbing
I have a computer and Internet access to information (I’m assuming that since you are reading this blog post)
I am educated and can read (again you are reading this while millions in the world can’t)
List all relationships you are grateful for (spouse, children, parents, relatives, friends, co-workers, etc.)
You can’t always have everything you want but you can be happy about what you have. Many times in my life, I’ve set out for huge goals (nothing wrong with goals, but that’s another topic) and in the process of attempting to reach those goals I was miserable because I had not yet and sometimes never achieved those goals. I’ve now learned to be happy with what I have and to enjoy the journey (still goal oriented) but it really is OK if I don’t hit the goal – I’m on a great journey towards something of value.
If you read this to the end, thank-you for being on this journey with me. You are important to me and it is for you and all who care to make themselves and their families better that I do what I do. You give me purpose and I am grateful for you and your family and loved ones.
Having said all this, if you are suffering from major depression, anxiety or depersonalization, this is a medical, neurotransmitter issue, and while gratitude practice may help, don’t neglect getting medical help. Depression is not a lack of gratitude.