Dr. Deb’s Mental Health Vitamin: Count your blessings, one by one

November 26, 2019 / by / 0 Comment

Dr. Deb Wade

By Dr. Deb Wade
GCU Vice President, Counseling and Psychological Services

Thanksgiving is here! What are YOU grateful for?

Did you know that feeling grateful boosts happiness and fosters both physical and psychological health? Gratitude is often believed to be a spontaneous feeling, BUT for those who make gratitude an intentional effort that they deliberately cultivate, studies show that their overall contentment and joy are greater than those who do not.

I want to encourage you to spend some focused, purposed time thinking of all that you are grateful for. But has this year been especially difficult? As you begin to ponder and reminisce, do you mostly see hardship, pain, and sadness in the past year?

Sometimes it is hard to see the goodness when life has thrown a curveball and the resulting distress and adversity have overshadowed the positive aspects of the year. The reality is that this year may have been downright difficult, and you found yourself practically wearing a hard hat to survive the numerous “hits” that your life has endured. How does one feel “grateful” when the pain and hardship of the year has been so great?

There is an old hymn, written in 1897, that seems to perfectly address this dilemma:

When upon life’s billows you are tempest-tossed,

When you are discouraged, thinking all is lost,

Count your many blessings, name them one by one,

And it will surprise you what the Lord has done.

         Count your blessings, name them one by one,

         Count your blessings, see what God has done?

Count your blessings, name them one by one,

Count your many blessings, see what the Lord has done.”

 (Johnson Oatman Jr., 1897)

Yes, many folks are enduring serious hardships, and others may have become downright anesthetized to the positives that life has provided.

It’s a fact that, all too often in this great land of America, we too easily can lapse into a state of ingratitude, taking for granted all the blessings and comforts we enjoy. We can revert into an attitude of self-satisfaction, expecting that peace and bliss will always follow us.

During those times we should, with sincerity of heart, count our blessings! So …  whether you have endured hardship or experienced prosperity this year, why not find the time to sit down and literally count your blessings?

Gratitude starts with noticing the goodness in one’s life. And it is a fact that what is given attention will be reinforced and, therefore, will grow. People who give intentional effort into examining the day and writing down the myriad positives experienced will see that list grow and grow. As we celebrate Thanksgiving, a day designed to focus on being thankful for that bounty, what better time to start that list?

Perhaps set a goal for yourself: “I will list 100 blessings that I will begin to count, one by one.” What a treasure … to clean the filter through which you see life and summon into focus the myriad blessings that can be found even when “upon life’s billows you are tempest-tossed”!

The bonus? Your list of 100 will grow! What a blessing … to know that bounty was there; I only needed to clean my filter to see it! Then, who knows? Turn your paper over and begin with 101! Happy Thanksgiving!


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