Gratitude Heals

How my gratitude practice helped me recontextualize my grief over losing my sister to breast cancer.

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I never thought of grief as an addiction until I began to make gratitude a way of being and thinking. Yes, you read that right! My own practice of expressing gratitude became more focused and sustainable as I began bringing the latest research and evidence-based practices into my executive coaching programs. As I established many of the same concepts with my clients, I began to personally experience the benefits discovered through existing research and studies on gratitude. So much so, and to my great surprise, I was able to recontextualize my grief over losing my sister to breast cancer at the early age of 41, and soon after, the passing of my mother and father.

I always thought of myself as being a grateful person, and yet when I looked back over my personal journaling, I recognized my thinking (writing) was still very dark, all about the grief, loss, and despair. From the latest studies in neuroscience we now know of the link between the reward circuitry of our brain and addiction (to anything – good or bad.) The epiphany I experienced through my practice strengthened my personal healing process and gave me a healthier emotional approach to dealing with my grief.

Of course I was grateful my sister was no longer suffering and that I was fortunate to have had her in my life for the time we had together. For me, the power of gratitude, without a doubt, was transformational. Gratitude journaling had the biggest impact on me. That aligns well with the research on gratitude, citing journaling or writing a letter of gratitude to someone, as meaningful ways to practice and derive the many benefits. If you’re not into journaling, try to sketch, paint, or doodle – stick people work too!

You’ve probably heard of the 21-day gratitude challenge or listened to Oprah share how gratitude has changed her life. When the time is right (and you’ll know) I encourage you to develop or strengthen your own gratitude practice and begin your healing process from whatever brings you pain, anxiety, depression, loneliness, and fear.

I’m happy to tell you my healing has fueled my passion to further research, write, speak, and coach on power of gratitude, from both an individual and organizational perspective.

Breathe in love…exhale gratitude

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