Gratitude reaffirms life and love, in spite of these troubled times. If practice makes perfect, I should rock at finding gratitude for I am not stranger to troubled times. In 1989, I lost my education, my home, my work, and everything I owned that couldn’t fit into a passenger van because of violence due to being a lesbian. How do you find gratitude on a daily basis when something like that occurs? Yet, if you do not feel gratitude today, in this moment, hope cannot survive for it sees nothing of worth to which to cling.
All across the nation, there is mass depression and fear–from children of immigrants crying in the classrooms because they fear their parents will be deported to threats of escalating violence.
My wife and I are not immune to it.
The incoming vice-president declared one of his first priorities was to obtain government funding for so-called “conversion therapy”. Two types of conversion therapy are (a) electroshock treatment which destroys parts of the brain and was decades ago proven useless in both LGBT “conversions” and alcoholism; and (b) aversion therapy in which drugs are used to cause violent illness in the LGBT person every time the “undesirable” stimulus is shown. Aversion therapy links the undesired behavior to an unpleasant stimulus. The “undesirable” stimulus for lesbians would be other women; the “undesirable” stimulus for gays would be another man.
Meanwhile in the light of that statement, a lot of LGBT people, myself among them, can’t help but wonder that once government funding is obtained—with Republicans holding Congress and the White House this is not an ungrounded fear—how long will it be until “conversion therapy” is mandated for all LGBT people?
In spite of the depression, the fear, the hatred, and the violence we must find something worthy in life, something for which to feel grateful or life becomes a weight upon our backs that grinds us to the ground. Gratitude is the foundation of hope. Without hope, despair becomes the vortex that swallows us.
How do we find gratitude during these troubled times?
1.The Serenity Prayer. Whether you begin with God or Goddess or Creator makes no difference in the efficacy of this “prayer”. Even if you are atheist, this is a helpful mantra. Simply substitute “I must find the serenity within me to accept….”
2.Three times a day—morning, afternoon, and evening—step outside regardless of the weather. If it is cold, feel the bracing clean power of the cold. If it is warm, revel in the pleasant heat. If it is rainy, turn your face up to the life-giving rain. If it is sunny, let the sun beat upon you. If it is snowing, make snowballs and snow people; lay upon the ground and create a snow “angel”.
All seasons are necessary for life. By appreciating each type of weather, you are grounding yourself in something that you cannot change while letting its power soothe your heart.
3.Set aside time each day to read, watch television—not the news!—or play some silly game. Buy a coloring book and color. Let your mind and body rest.
4.DO NOT watch the news, listen to the news; read newspapers or news articles in the magazines. Give yourself time to adjust and heal before tackling the negativity you will inevitably find in those places.
5.At night, the last thing before you go to sleep, find the good things in your life and list them in your mind. This is a Gratitude List. The last thoughts we have before sleeping often determine how well we rest and what our mood is when we awaken.
If you are having a difficult time finding good things in your life, begin with the basics: I am alive. I can (list the senses you possess—hear, see, smell, taste, touch). My dog loves me.
I have adequate clothing for this moment. I have a friend(s). My family loves me. I have a job (or if you are unemployed, I have the ability to find a job).
There are many basics and those are determined individually. Find the basics and repeat them night after night until you can begin adding other things to your nightly Gratitude List.
6.Stay away from marijuana and alcohol, even in small doses. They are both depressants. That’s why you get that “mellow feeling”; however, if a person is already feeling “down” or “blah”, alcohol and marijuana increase that negative feeling.
7.Stay away from negative friends and family. Tell them you don’t want to talk about the current situation. If they insist on discussing it, leave.
8.Exercise. Exercise releases natural chemicals in your body that enhance positive feelings.
9.This is NOT the time to begin a diet. Diets often depress people because of their perceptions of their own bodies.
10.Be gentle with yourself and others. We are all in this together.
This is nearly impossible without the building block of gratitude upon which to lay your foundation.