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Surprising Benefits From Keeping A Gratitude Journal

By: Sasha Kildare 

Sometimes desperation inspires action. A while back, the desperation of homelessness ended my eight-year cycle of hospitalizations for bipolar disorder that had begun in my teens.

Sixteen years ago, I was struggling with secondary infertility. Through my own research I discovered that my food choices, gaining and losing 30 pounds a year, and being overweight could contribute to infertility. Desperate to have a second child, I abandoned the compulsive dieting that had been a huge part of my life since high school and became willing to try something entirely different — changing my eating habits and practicing a spiritual discipline.

At first, the only eating habit I changed was to cease binge eating. Eventually, I became aware that sugar and white flour triggered my insatiable hunger, and I stopped eating them.

I used to have many edible “friends.” Scoop after scoop of New York Super Fudge Chunk ice cream topped with banana slices and walnut pieces took away my worries and helped me get to sleep, a critical need for someone battling bipolar disorder.

In order to continue to say bye-bye to pizza, chocolate chip cookies and related comfort foods, I had to acquire new skills. When my mentor, aka sponsor, suggested keeping a gratitude journal, I immediately agreed. I was not only desperate to have a second child, I was exhausted from years of yo-yo dieting and desperate to let go of the self hatred I experienced for letting myself down every time I binged.

Mind you, I had been aware of the supposed benefits of this practice for years. When Oprah Winfrey had declared that it had changed her life, I had thought to myself, yeah right.

Gratitude, Saturday, March 24, 2018

1.Walking districts with my son, home from college on Spring break, in support of a teacher running for the local school board.

2.Together with my daughter, took Dog Level 2 class at the animal shelter.

3.Read about New York non-profit that focuses on helping families out during times of need to help prevent their children from ending up in foster care.

4.Borrowed neighbor’s dog for the weekend to play with our dog.

5.Getting to bed early.

Keeping the journal gets me thinking of things throughout the day that could go on the list, which shifts me away from negative self-talk and overthinking and has become fun. Whatever personal or professional challenge I am experiencing, it doesn’t seem so daunting after focusing on the positive things in my life.

The intense physical cravings that drew me toward sugar disappeared after a few weeks. The emotional cravings are still there, and it takes more tools than a gratitude journal to appease them, but the gratitude journal has helped me fight depression. It also helps me to move away from stagnation and anxiety and toward possibility and calm.

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