A few years ago I nearly died. Gratitude saved my life.
I lay in intensive care, connected by cables and tubes to machines that beeped and whirred. Machines which were either monitoring me, or drip feeding stuff into me. I was dimly aware of a group of people at the end of my bed talking quietly. Two hours before my wife Isabel had driven me to hospital, not quite sure what was wrong with me. I had pneumonia, and my decline was rapid.
I’d like to say that I had the presence of mind in those first few hours to will myself better. That I had the fighting spirit to pull through. Maybe I had but I have no idea because I was totally out of it. The real work was done by the nurses and doctors, whose care and expertise rescued me and kick-started my recovery. And, for that, I will always be grateful.
Gratitude is extremely powerful. In those first few hours in hospital when I regained consciousness, it wasn’t willpower I felt most. It was feeling grateful:
Grateful for Isabel coming home from Spain to look after me.
Grateful that I would be around to see my girls.
Grateful that I had been given a second chance.
Some time later I became grateful for the lessons that getting pneumonia taught me: live a life in balance, listen to my body, and don’t do nothing when I start to feel ill.
Gratitude helped me pull through then, and makes me a wiser man now.
Since those days in a hospital bed I have stopped often for a moment to think how grateful I am about so many things: from enjoying a simple cup of coffee, to the support of my friends, or just that my train was on time.
Within the last few months I have established a new habit – a Daily Gratitude Ritual. Every day I write down three things I am grateful for. Today it is:
1. The sharp frosty air that properly woke me up this morning.
2. Having the common sense to go through my diary and realistically work out what I can achieve today.
3. It’s pay day in a couple of days.
Writing these three down makes me smile, and helps set me up for a tough busy day. I do this every day now.
Gratitude reconnects me with reality. It’s a stress-buster and anxiety-reducer because it forces me to realise that things are simply not that bad / hectic / out of my control.
Being grateful every day works very powerfully for me. I know that it has far-reaching effects in my life.
Every so often when I think about these posts I ask myself the question, “What would I want someone to tell me.” Today it was about the remarkable impact of thinking every day about three things I am grateful for.
So, what are you grateful for today?