by Carrie Jurney DVM DACVIM (Neuro)
This post goes out to my good friend Kelly. Kelly knows a whole bunch about self-care. She’s the first person who probably ever said the word “mindfulness” to me with a straight face, and better yet she very patiently explained to me why I should stop being a twatwaffle and listen to her about it.
So every Friday on her Facebook wall, Kelly asks all of her friends to say three things they are grateful for. In fact, that post was the entire inspiration for this blog. She calls it the Friday Gratefuls and a lot of people participate in it. I try to every week, and I read as many grateful thoughts as I can. It really helps me recenter myself, especially if I've had a bad week.
I have done sporadic gratitude exercises prior to Friday Gratefuls. I first heard about them in a lecture by Dr. Bartram at the Caribbean Veterinary Medical Association's Work-Life balance conference (which was an awesome conference BTW). In these lectures, Dr. Bartram talked about the scientific literature on happiness. He is a veterinarian who has published in the field of veterinary mental health and suicide. Rather than harp on depressing statistics in his lecture, he presented to us the scientific evidence of what we should do to be happier. This was not touchy-feely hippy crap, this was peer-reivewed data. Data on how to be happier. And gratitude exercises were part of that.
Kelly’s post is a nice weekly reminder to take a minute and do them. And now, we'll have thankful Thursdays, so I'll make myself do them twice a week.
This is me (left middle) and Kelly (back right) when we first met at a mutual friends wedding in Thailand.
To do these exercises you need to write down three specific things you are grateful for. They cannot be general things like “my health, my family.” They need to be specific, timely, and they don’t need to be mind blowing. Writing “I had a really excellent sandwich for lunch” is better than “I’m grateful for my marriage.” Even better is “I am grateful that my husband made me this really excellent sandwich for lunch.”
Think of three. Some weeks that’s hard, but you can do it! Something good happened this week. You got a good parking spot at the store? Great! Write it down. Your friend dropped by for a chat? That counts! That incision you closed was really pretty. Good job! Gather then up and write 'em down. If your comfortable- we would love to hear about them. Gratitude is contagious.
So tell me my friends, what are you grateful for this week?