Strong Moms, Staying Grateful & Why Doing So Is the Key to Success

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

A girls sits in a window seat and reads her gratitude journal.


If you know the story of my mom's life, you know that she was somebody who could give legitimate advice on the topic of enduring through hardship. She faced some of the hardest things we come across in life. Somehow, she found a way to live on, and live happily. She never seemed exhausted by the hardship she had faced. It baffled me. 

At twenty five years old, she buried my oldest brother. He was only four years old. My father told me of the tormenting grief she endured afterward, regularly coming home from work to find her lying in my brother's room, drenched in tears. 

She divorced in her early thirties. She went back to work, feeling the constant pull between the need to parent her three children, all under the age of seven, and the need to provide for them. Exhausted every day, she wished regularly that she could give us the lives she desperately wanted us to have. She eventually married my stepdad and they raised us all in a good home. 

Her battle with cancer was inspiring to say the very least. She was hopeful, despite knowing that she was terminal, and remained strong, and joyful to the very end. There were moments where I saw depression in her eyes, but she would look at me and smile anyway. 

WHY STAYING GRATEFUL BUILDS STRENGTH

My mother once gave me a lime-colored, spiral-bound notebook for Christmas.  Inside the cover, she had folded up a short letter about how she had found, throughout many of her trials, that focusing on what is going right is a way to have hope and happiness during hard things.  

Her reasoning for this is simple: When you acknowledge what is going right, and what you have to be grateful for, things don't seem so bad. 

This is not to say that things won't be hard. (I know, I'm really sorry to be the bearer of bad news!) It's the simple principle of having faith and hope. Things will still be hard sometimes. Things will still go wrong, sometimes. But, if we look at what is going right during those times, it will help.

She told me that one of the main reasons she was able to overcome the loss of my oldest brother, was because she had a happy baby boy at home that needed a mother. My second oldest brother was about  a year old, and still required a lot of her. She had to pick herself up every day and be his mom. She said focusing on the fact that she still had a healthy, living son saved her life. It helped her to look to the future with hope, help him grow, and help him be healthy and happy. 

When she was sick with cancer, she said the bright side of it was that she found a sense of gratitude she had never experienced before. She was able to see how much of an incredible life she had. She suddenly desired nothing but to love her family and friends. 

HOW TO USE GRATITUDE TO TURN THINGS AROUND

My mom wasn't always hopeful and positive. She wasn't always this beacon of light, and pillar of strength. She was a normal person, the type that cried and asked, "Why me?" She was human, after all. 

She trained herself little by little to acknowledge that while some things were going wrong, there were also things going right. Reading her journal, I witnessed her progression. Her entries became more about gratitude than about negativity. As her entries changed, she turned into the mother I knew. The mother that seemed undaunted by life, and her ability to hope and have faith seemed unshakable. 

She had spent a small amount of time writing lists, detailing the things that went right that day, or things she was grateful for. She made it a habit to do so every day, or quite regularly. As she turned her focus every day to the things that went well,  and the things she was grateful for, she found a joy she hadn't known before, a joy that had previously felt out of reach. 

The gratitude journal was her secret to success, and she was passing the secret on to me by gifting me the notebook. I took her advice one step further when I created this blog. Focusing on joy has strengthened me, and built me back up after being torn down by pain. It's my gratitude journal in a way. 

A CHALLENGE

So, I challenge all of you to keep a gratitude journal. Try it. See what comes of it! Right now, find a small journal, notebook, corner of newspaper, your arm even, and make an entry for today. 

What are three things that happened today that were good? Can't think of three? Just come up with one. I'll start:

  1. My husband gave me a hug and a kiss after work and said I was pretty. 
  2. He also made dinner instead of me, and it tasted good.
  3. I got home from work in 45 minutes, instead of the usual 70+ minute drive that has been a boon to my day since they started widening the only main road out of the city. 

What are three things you are grateful for in your life? 
  1. My income
  2. My husband
  3. My brother who regularly tells the world I have a good aura

Ok, now it's your turn! Come up with at least one for each section, if not three. That's easy, it's just two things. At least. Have a lot more? Write them all down! Repeat the process again every night. Try it for at least a week, read back on each entry often, and tell me you aren't feeling even a tiny bit, fraction of a hair, better. I guarantee it will work!

+++ Also, feel free to share one thing below. I'd love to hear what made your day a little brighter today.  



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20 comments

  1. I love this. We have a gratitude journal I fill out when I can. Your mother sounds like an amazing woman

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    1. Thank you! She was definitely awesome. I miss her a lot. I'm glad you're journaling. Thanks for stopping in!

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  2. This is wonderful! Something good that happened today - I finished my workout even though I wanted to quit. Something I'm grateful for- blogging. Such an inspirational post!

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    1. Awesome! Way to keep at it. I need to learn to workout regularly... I'm such a couch potato! Thanks for your comment.

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  3. Just from reading this I can tell how strong your mom was and how much she loved you. It's so wonderful when people learn to look past the hardships in their lives and are able to find the beauty in everyday. What a wonderful gift your mom passed down to you!

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    1. Thank you! She truly was tough. She was the greatest.

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  4. This is so beautiful. The way we look at things matters so much to how we feel in our own skin and roles in life

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  5. Wow, Lana. Your mother sounded wonderful and I am happy that she was able to pass her wisdom and gratitude on to you. Earlier today, I was actually thinking about starting a gratitude journal and your post has convinced me that I must do it. Thanks so much for sharing! Something that has made my day nice so far was doing well at an interview and being offered a job!

    Found your blog through the Blog Passion Project and am now following along. Glad I came across your blog! <3

    xoxo Jess

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    1. THANK YOU! I'm so glad you are now convinced. :) Congrats on the new job, and doing well at the interview. I'm glad things worked out for you! Thanks for reading!

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  6. This is really great! Gratitude really does make the world of difference. When I remember to count my blessings, the day goes much better!

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    1. One thing my husband does regularly with me is ask, "What was the best part of your day?" It forces me to find something good. It's a great conversation starter, too.

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  7. Great post! Def something I need to do more of.

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  8. What a great attitude, from you and your mother. Gratitude is my one word goal this year, and I love your perspective!

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    1. Awesome! You will probably have a great year then. Thanks for reading.

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  9. This brought me to tears. What an amazing story about your mom - what a remarkable woman! - and her drive towards gratitude. She's so right...focusing on what you DO have is the best reason to keep moving forward. THANK YOU for sharing this story. I'll be thinking about it all day!

    Coming Up Roses

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    1. Erica, thank you for your kind words. I'm so glad you stopped by.

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  10. Wow - your mom sounds like she was a strong, beautiful woman. After reading this, I am totally going to start a gratitude journal. I've heard about them before, many times, but your post really brought light to them for me. Thank you!

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    1. Good luck, and I hope it helps! Thank you, she was the best.

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