Practically every magazine, website and blog in the U.S. talks about gratitude this time of year. While Thanksgiving Day and November are apt times to express all that one is thankful for, extending gratitude from a day-long or month-long practice into a daily activity brings great rewards. Personally, it is a crucial component in my endeavor to have a happy, rewarding life even with chronic migraine.
Taking advantage of every moment on migraine-free days is the easy part. The challenge is in finding nuggets of goodness of days that include a migraine attack.
The activity itself is simple: Each day, write down at least three things that you are thankful for. You can do it as the day goes along or have a short period of reflection at the end of the day, whichever you prefer. While just thinking of your list is better than nothing, writing it down (or typing it) is its own gift. It helps cement the habit and, more importantly, gives you a ready reminder of positive memories to cheer you up during bleak times.
I'll admit that sometimes I look at my lists and think "Seriously? Emptying and reloading the dishwasher was my biggest accomplishment that week?" Unless I'm in a major funk, that pessimism gets canceled out when I remember the great books I read, the interesting conversations I had with my husband, my wonderful friends and family, or the kind messages I received from blog readers.
Whether you share your daily lists is up to you. Mine are primarily a personal tool - I admit this is partly because I'm embarrassed for "normal" people to see how little I do from day to day - though sometimes I share them with my husband. They help keep us connected when I would otherwise retreat into myself during particularly bad migraine spells.
There's no doubt that migraine-free days are precious. But every single day, including those seemingly "lost" to migraine, is valuable. Recognizing the joy in even the worst of days shows migraine who’s boss. You can’t control whether or not you have migraine, but you can keep it from crushing your spirit.
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