Between the Lines

I would maintain that thanks are the highest form of thought,
and that gratitude is happiness doubled by wonder.
— Gilbert K. Chesterton

Kathy Steffen

The holidays are over. Adding to the gray winter blahs, it’s hard to ignore the negativity dumping onto us every day. It’s everywhere, from social media, newspapers and television, books we read, and discussions on the street. The world’s problems seem enormous, and frustration quickly grows. Some days, I want to dive back into bed and pull the covers over my head. It’s awful tempting to hide, but that only saves the negativity for later. So how do you pull out of the black hole? How can you shift your life back toward the light? One word. Gratitude.
The People in Your Life. Make a list, then write a paragraph highlighting what you received from each person and what you learned: Who do you love? Who are you grateful for in your life right now? Who believes in you? Who has taught and/or influenced you in the past? Who do you go to in case of emergency? Now look at the flip-side … Who challenged you? Threw bumps in your road of life? Who has been brutally honest with you? What happened? Write about how you overcame the challenge (or not) and what you learned because this person pushed you. What would you have missed if this person had never entered your life? Now ask the same questions about pets or animals that have come into your life.
The Places in Your Life. Describe your home. Make a list of things you love about where you live. What do you love about your house? What/who makes it a home? What about the town where you live? What are your favorite places? What makes them special? Make a list of places you love to visit. What about each do you love? What does each bring into your life?
The Happenings in Your Life. What opportunities have you had throughout your life? List and write about them. What is going on right now that brings you joy? What did you do today that you loved? List your favorite vacations and why you enjoyed them. (This is a great place to brainstorm vacations you’d still love to do.) When was the last time you felt jazzed? The last time you laughed so hard tears ran down your face? Write about what happened.
You. What is your favorite trait about yourself? How does it impact your life? List your talents and write about each. What is your favorite song? Why do you connect with it? What about illness or problems? List the things you do to take care of yourself when you are sick or down.
Take Some Action. Make a list of people who have helped you in some way this week. Think of three ways to say “thank you” without using words. Choose one and do it (or better yet — all of them!). Compliment someone in your life who you appreciate.
There. I bet you feel better already.

Kathy Steffen is an award-winning novelist and author of the “Spirit of the River Series:” “First, There is a River,” “Jasper Mountain,” and “Theater of Illusion.” She writes from her home in Spring Green she shares with her husband and cats. Find out more at http://www.kathysteffen.com.