By heatherericksonauthor.comThe Erickson Family

Thankful for the Gift of Gratitude

Thankful for the Gift of Gratitude

Gratitude is good for the soul Gratitude is also a choice. You can choose whether to be thankful or not. We’ve all seen examples of people who don’t appreciate what they have, as well as others who have very little, but who are extremely thankful for it. What does this have to do with preventing burnout?

It comes down to the parasympathetic nervous system

The parasympathetic nervous system (PNS) is the opposite of the sympathetic nervous system (SNS). The SNS triggers your fight or flight response. Whereas the PNS calms you down. It lowers cortisol levels (stress hormones) and increases oxytocin (feel-good hormones).

Research shows that when we feel gratitude, the parasympathetic nervous system is triggered, giving you those calming, feel-good benefits.

Write it down!

One of the best ways to feel more gratitude is by writing down the things you feel thankful for. This could be done by keeping a gratitude journal. Simply designate a diary where you can write all of the good things that happened that day, the people you appreciate in your life, and the blessings you’ve been given.

You can also keep a gratitude jar.

This is an activity you can do on your own or with your family. It’s fun to do as a family throughout the year from Thanksgiving to Thanksgiving or with January 1st as the start and end dates.

Get a jar, any jar, mason or cookie, it doesn’t matter. It’s what you put into it that matters. Keep a small tablet of paper next to the jar.

Whenever someone is thankful for something, they should write it down along with their name and the date. It’s a good idea to get into the habit by asking your kids, each evening if anything happened that day to be grateful for.

As the gratitude jar fills up…

Type the entries into a word document and arrange them in chronological order. To do that, follow these steps:

  • Type the date in the numeric form before each entry, for example, 2008/05/06. This will enable you to sort your gratitude list from the earliest date to the most recent.
  • Select your text in a bulleted list.
  • On the “Home” tab, in the “Paragraph” group, click “Sort.” This is the symbol with an A over a Z, next to a downward pointing arrow.
  • A “Sort Text” dialog box will open up. Under “Sort by”, click “Paragraphs” and “Text,” in the drop-down fields. Then, click either “Ascending” or “Descending.”

When you’re done, you can put your list in a 3 ring binder. Then on whatever day you choose, you can celebrate the blessings your family has experienced by reading your family’s list. You will all enjoy recalling those memories. This is a great way of focusing on the positive things in your life and is sure to increase your gratitude no matter what circumstances your family is in.

A to Z Blogging ChallengeThe A to Z Blogging Challenge

Once again I will be doing double duty in the A to Z Blogging Challenge. I will be sharing ways to avoid burnout, here at Facing Cancer with Grace.  At Heather Erickson Author/Writer/Speaker, I will share ways of thinking creatively, using Brainsparker’s Kickstart Course of A to Z prompts. I hope you’ll visit me at both sites.

A Change of Perspective

Sometimes, life can really throw you some curveballs. My family knows about this as much as anyone. Still, we have never been at a loss for things to thank God for. Having an attitude of gratitude will make your life and the lives of your family so much better. It doesn’t change your situation, but it does change your perspective.

What Are Your Thoughts?

What helps you make a shift in perspective? I’d love to hear in the comment section, below. I appreciate my readers as well as the writing community. To show that appreciation, I use Comment Luv. Just leave a comment below and your latest post will get a link next to it. Thank you!

Now Available!!facing cancer as a parent

Facing Cancer as a Parent: Helping Your Children Cope with Your Cancer


In 2012 doctors diagnosed my husband, Dan, with stage IV lung cancer. Since then, our family has been learning what it means to face cancer. I’ve focused my writing and speaking on helping cancer patients and their families advocate for themselves and live life to the fullest, in spite of their illness. My goal is to help people face cancer with grace.

My book Facing Cancer as a Friend: How to Support Someone Who Has Cancer, is available on

Also, check out Facing Cancer as a Parent: Helping Your Children Cope with Your Cancer.

Also, put your memories into words with The Memory Maker’s Journal.

I also blog at Heather Erickson Author/Writer/Speaker

Have any questions or comments? I would love to hear from you! By commenting, you agree to the terms of my privacy policy.

4 comments on “Thankful for the Gift of Gratitude

Hi Heather,

We all complain about how bad things are and how bad and mean this world is, giving every opportunity to the Sympathetic nervous system to create havoc in our body. This gratitude jar is a brilliant idea to give SNS some respite, for PNS to take over and give us comfort, respite and that rest and digest feeling.


Thank you, John. November is the perfect time to get into the spirit of gratitude!

Most of us have flight or fight response activated on a regular basis seldom giving parasympathetic nervous system to take over and put some calm and sanity in our lives. We perpetually think about the things that can go wrong in our lives, be stressed about it and never give a thought to the acts of kindness by total strangers during the day, how your colleague greeted you with enthusiasm, smile, appreciation by your boss and the warm, delicious food cooked by your partner. Being grateful about these seemingly small things could lift us up and make us calmer, happy and in a better frame of mind to tackle life’s challenges.
John Gatesby recently posted…GASTROPARESIS PART 3 DUMPING SYNDROMEMy Profile


Hi John. I totally agree. Focusing on the things we are grateful for can lower our blood pressure and help us to feel at peace, rather than filled with anxiety.

Comments are closed for this post !!
A to Z Challenge Survivor



Facing Cancer as a Parent Book Cover

Get the Memory Maker’s Journal

Facing Cancer as a Friend!