As we turn the page to the New Year, some of us let go with reluctance, and others are anxious for that fresh open beginning. A few of us find ourselves with a ho hum attitude, not believing that a calendar number will make much difference, or provide any new opportunity.

moodlaurieAnd that’s true.

The physical change to a New Year does not automatically equal any change in our lives or circumstances. That change comes when and if we intend it. What the New Year does provide is a moment to pause and reflect on what we might want to shift or re-make in our lives.

One of the easiest changes we can make that will affect everything is a practice of gratitude.

Research done at Stanford and elsewhere indicates that a regular practice of gratitude increases well-being, lifts mood, and decreases stress. All outcomes that those who live with RA and chronic pain can relate to! What would it be like to be able to lift your mood, even when the reality of pain and limitation don’t change?

A gratitude ritual, one you regularly observe, can make this difference.

What kind of practice?

Some people write. Here’s a great finding from the research – it doesn’t have to be every day – or even multiple times a week. Researchers found that even writing down gratitude once a week made a difference.

Some people write to others. A brief note written to someone stating your gratitude makes a spillover effect of good stuff into your own life. One of my clients began writing a note once a week. It changed his perspective, and he found himself dwelling less on his illness and more on those who had given him great gifts – love, hope, and laughter to name a few.

Some people make a game of it. They write on scraps of paper and put them in a jar where they can see the notes pile up. They add gratitude to a walk, or morning meditation, or make a list as a way of getting out of bed.

There are no rules – the only thing that matters is some kind of constancy. A ritual.

So I’m beginning today by remembering how grateful I am for this community – for your wisdom, your pluck, your profound creativity in living with an illness that is wily and hard, and for your support of each other through the last year, and I know for the year to come..

Best of the New Year to all of you…