Friends, we have a special treat for you today! Our first ever guest writer, Ashley Ahmadi-Ball. Ashley is a therapist at the Student Psychological Counseling Services at Chapman University.
Ashley and I met in graduate school at Chapman University. Our friendship grew over time spent studying topics like psychopathology, addiction, family therapy, and child psychology. But it wasn’t until our husbands met when they were dragged to a Chapman get-together and ended up bonding over race cars and motorcycles. Our couple’s friendship has been strong ever since! I admire Ashley for many things but her intelligence, patience, beauty (inside and out) and genuine nature make anyone want to be her friend. Maybe that’s why she is such a dynamic counselor. Here are her thoughts on gratitude.
As I shared with my friend over a double date with our husbands, it’s been helpful to me to be aware of gratitude and to practice it daily. This practice has been an incredible help in managing stress and anxiety, which many of us experience.
Someone recently shared with me that gratitude is a verb, meaning we have to put it into action. For me, this means writing out gratitude lists. I believe when we practice being aware of gratitude it works like a muscle getting stronger and our capacity to feel this grows. Gratitude lists help me to get out of worry, fear, envy, self-pity and help me to feel more happy and free. I am then more able to enjoy the gifts and miracles that this life has to offer.
Some days my gratitude lists are short, maybe 3 things and sometimes there are 15 things on my list. I really don’t think there is a right or wrong way to do it. One thing I have come to know, is that when I am practicing gratitude I see it more throughout my day. It really doesn’t matter how big or small those things on our list are.
Some examples of things I have put on my lists have been:
- A roof over my head
- A hot shower
- The meal I just ate
- The hummingbirds that visit me every morning
- The tomatoes I grew
- Having a family that loves me
- The warm sunshine on my skin
- My baby cousin’s laugh
- Having a car to get me places
- My husband’s arms around me
- My desire to want to continue to grow and learn . . . the list can go on and on!
When I practice gratitude by writing these lists, my anxiety and stress melt away and suddenly I see things through a new pair of “glasses”.
I love Sheryl Crow’s lyrics, “It’s not having what you want, it’s wanting what you’ve got.” I love hearing her belt this tune because I can quickly forget all the gifts I’ve been given if I don’t have these little reminders and practice this awareness daily.
Practicing gratitude also helps me to stay out of blaming other people and situations. It helps me to realize that I am no one’s victim and I can choose to see the gifts if I open myself to them. I can appreciate the many gifts, talents and opportunities given to me instead of dwelling on what I lack.
Thank you for letting me share on this topic and I hope you can take something you like and apply it in your life today.
I will leave you with one of my favorite quotes: