Hester Hill Schnipper, LICSW, OSW-C Program Manager, Oncology Social Work

JANUARY 04, 2017

Of course I should be more grateful. Probably most of us should be more grateful. We are living in this century rather than most of history when life would have been much shorter and harder. I am/most of us (who are reading this) are living in the more developed parts of the world. I had wonderful parents, a magical childhood, and have had an immensely satisfying and lucky life. I have never had to go hungry and have always managed, some months and years with more difficulty than others, to pay the bills.

I am incredibly grateful for my daughters and granddaughters and wonderful husband. I am grateful for every morning that I awaken and am aware of all this good luck. However, I have never been interested in keeping a gratitude journal nor have I ever ascribed a single benefit to having had two cancers. As I often say to my patients who are recognizing that their illness could be worse: "Yes, it could be worse. But this is plenty bad enough." What seems pretty good in the context of Cancer World looks pretty bad from every other perspective.

More thoughts and some good suggestions from Cure Today:

Cancer Survivor Gratitude: What Other Choice Is There?
Barbara Tako

I am not grateful for my cancers. They weren’t special presents or gifts that I got. Lucky me? No. I didn’t choose a cancer “journey.” I didn’t ask for cancer as an opportunity for personal growth.
One of the important and healthful ways that I live as the survivor of two different cancers is to actively practice gratitude every day.
I don’t choose to practice gratitude because I am a good sport. I am not a good sport. And, I don’t practice gratitude because I am naturally cheerful. I am not. I also don’t practice gratitude because I am an optimistic “glass is half full” sort of person. Not me. I practice gratitude because, in the uncertain world of cancer, it is the only sane choice.
Practicing gratitude makes me seek out the good in each day. I do this everyday. I don’t always keep a “gratitude journal” as suggested by Sarah Ban Breathnach in her book “Simple Abundance” (good book, by the way). I simply make myself come up with three specific things I am grateful for before the end of the day. I make them specific to the day. That means “I love my husband” is too general, but “I am grateful my husband made a nice fire tonight” is perfect. It would be a boring platitude if I just reinvented the same wheels every day about my loving spouse and children.
Being specific each day in what I choose to be grateful about actually makes me have to think hard and to focus on what exactly I am grateful for. If I am vague and general, then my gratitude exercise loses any meaning.

Read more and please consider adding a comment about your gratitude or lack thereof:

Above content provided by Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center. For advice about your medical care, consult your doctor.
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