It can be difficult to stay positive after a stroke or serious illness, but there are still many things in our lives that bring us happiness. How can you nurture a sense of gratitude at a difficult time in your life?

Gratitude is defined as a positive, social emotion that is associated with features of high quality, healthy social relationships and fosters socially productive behaviors. That may sound confusing, but ask yourself, “Why is it that the person earning $30,000/year may be happier than a millionaire?”  It may be that they are thankful for what they have, while the unhappy millionaire may only see the glass as half full, wanting a bigger house or fancier car.

Cultivating gratitude and directing it toward other people is integral to satisfying social relationships, health and well-being. Grateful people are more optimistic and happy, deal better with difficult experiences, while benefiting their health, immune system and sleep.

What can you do?

So, how can you nurture gratitude in your life?  Try starting a Gratitude Journal.   Each morning write down three things you are grateful for.  Many mornings it may be the same three: your spouse, your family and your friends. 

At the end of each day repeat the same exercise plus look for specific things that happened during the day for which you are grateful.  You can purchase a gratitude journal on line, but you can also just use a blank notebook or the notes section of your Smartphone.  

You may be thinking, “I don’t have time for this.”  But, it is like the old story that if you say you don’t have time to meditate, you need to meditate.

 Here’s another opportunity to help yourself.  It is time to start a gratitude journal. You will be surprised how many ways you can still express gratitude.  You and the people around you will feel better.

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