Need a Lift?

Do you feel down sometimes? When that happens to me, I turn to an immediate mood lifter: gratitude.

November is the month to celebrate Thanksgiving in the United States, reminding us to be thankful for all of our blessings. The rest of the year, I write in a gratitude journal to make sure I keep all the good stuff in front of me.

I recently heard a story about how a grateful attitude dramatically changed a person’s life: An inmate in a San Diego prison was constantly being placed in solitary confinement, due to his aggressive nature. When his thirty days in solitary would be up, he’d be back almost instantly.

One time, a guard slipped a pamphlet on gratitude in the prisoner’s tiny solitary space. At first, the man became very angry, but having nothing else to do, he read the pamphlet, which suggested taking a deep breath, for starters. He did and noticed he felt a little different. A little bit better. Next, he turned to giving thanks, sarcastically at first (“Am I supposed to be thankful for being stuck in this miserable stink hole?”), but as he continued thanking, he noticed a change. His words became less sarcastic and more sincere. And, for the first time, he felt a little compassion for himself. As this thanksgiving continued, his heart began to soften.

After his thirty days were up, the prison guards were astonished to see him emerge with a smile on his face. His behavior changed dramatically enough not only to avoid solitary confinement, but to earn him an early release.

Without the right attitude, I can’t write my books. To get the right attitude, I remind myself of all that I’m grateful for by writing in my journal. It feels good, it feels right, to give thanks and helps me to focus on the better parts of life and cast away the rest. Studies have even shown that a tiny bit of gratitude produces positive results such as lifting one’s mood, lowering blood pressure, having fewer aches and less stress. 

Gratitude is an expansion of the heart, leading to peace and calm. My writing flows when I keep the right frame of mind, for which I am always thankful. What writer doesn’t want that?

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