Be grateful, count your blessings

Published December 26, 2021, 12:05 AM

by Manila Bulletin

It’s the day after Christmas, the time to count blessings and be grateful.

We hear that advice — count your blessings — often repeated these days amid a pandemic when anxiety and grief are affecting mental health, productivity, and relationships. 

It is an advice that should be given again and again, long after the pandemic. The act of counting blessings focuses attention on what one has, not what one does not have.  It brings the person a sense of gratefulness or a deep appreciation for kindness or blessings received.

Why is counting blessings not always practiced? It’s because one engrossed in finding solutions to problems may not have time to think of blessings received; while one who is doing well seems to have no reason to pause and count blessings.

Six days before the new year rolls in is a good time to count — or even list on paper — blessings received this year, and to be grateful.

Start with being grateful for what you had on Christmas Eve. Did you sit together with family for noche buena? Did friends remember to call, send messages or gifts to wish you Merry Christmas?  Did you feel well enough to enjoy the holidays, talking to friends over zoom, even meeting a few of them for coffee? Then you have been blessed with much! 

Ask random people what they are grateful for and you will likely hear the replies: “I am grateful for life, to have survived COVID-19.” Others count as blessings being with family, having friends, food, special skills, a job, a good boss.

Much has been written about gratefulness.  Studies indicate that being grateful benefits the person who appreciates what he has.   “With gratitude people acknowledge the goodness in their lives. In the process, people realize that the source of that goodness lies at least partially outside themselves,” according to Harvard Health Publishing of the Harvard Medical School.  Gratitude helps people connect with something bigger than them.

All studies show that “gratitude helps people feel more positive emotions, relish good experiences, improve their health, deal with adversity, and build strong relationships.”

Another study in the same health website conducted by three doctors found that those who expressed their gratitude through thank you letters “immediately exhibited a huge increase in happiness scores.”

Here are two tips on how to keep gratefulness with you:  One, keep a journal to write what things to be grateful for at the end of the week. Two, write a thank you note and send it to the person you want to thank. 

Living amid a pandemic where lockdowns had kept people home for months has brought the spirit of gratefulness through the appreciation of the little things that we had taken as routine.  Having the freedom to step out of one’s house and buy food stuff.  Going to church, receiving the sacrament and worshiping with a community.  Watching a movie.  Having a job.  Visiting friends and relatives. Dining out with friends. 

If the eased restrictions allow you to experience at least two of those elements today, it is reason to be grateful!

So, count your blessings. Being grateful is an element of happiness.