Gratitude is a powerful tool. This is true for everyone, but especially essential for those dealing with chronic illness. Find the extra shot of strength you need from the following 15 inspirational quotes.
Events in life are frequently overwhelming. When you throw chronic or mental illness into the mix, it can be downright unbearable. However, even when physical strength fails you, power can be regained by changing your mindset. Choosing gratitude helps make this shift.
It’s easy to forget about gratitude when there’s a lot happening. The following inspiring quotes will help you to remember to keep gratitude in its rightful place.
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15 Quotes to Inspire Gratitude
1. Make a Choice
“When it comes to life the critical thing is whether you take things for granted or take them with gratitude.” – Gilbert K. Chesterton
Gratitude is a choice. It’s a conscious decision to look for the good in the world and in your life.
Living with chronic illness robs you of so much. Time with family and friends may be limited or of lower quality than you would like. Anxiety and depression can make you want to never leave your bedroom. Constant pain often dampens any inner fire you may have had.
Still, even on the darkest of days, gratitude can help you to see the light left in the world around you.
Tuesdays With Morrie, by Mitch Albom, is an excellent example of dealing with life’s difficulties with a grateful attitude. The true story recounts the last years of Professor Morrie Schwartz’s life told through weekly visits with a previous student. Professor Schwartz was diagnosed with ALS, but never let his chronic illness take away his positive spirit.
One of my favorite parts of Tuesdays With Morrie is how Morrie continues to find solace in his declining health in the simple fact that he could still wipe his own behind. When he lost that ability, he was grateful to have someone that could do it.
ALS is an especially awful disease. I lost both my grandmother and aunt to it. As it progresses, it takes every vestige of hope and dignity from its victim.
Yet, despite everything that ALS took from him, Morrie chose each day to find a reason to be grateful. There are reasons all around you. If you can’t think of any yet, read on. One of the following quotes may be the epiphany you need.
2. Start Small
“Sometimes we should express our gratitude for the small and simple things like the scent of the rain, the taste of your favorite food, or the sound of a loved one’s voice.” – Joseph B. Wirthlin
If finding gratitude is a struggle for you, start small. Right now, at this moment, what is one thing you like? Is it the sun or rain outside? Could it be the pie you know you will reward yourself with after dinner? Are you cuddled up with your favorite pillow or in your favorite chair?
Each of those seemingly small things is a reason to be grateful. Personally, I thank God every day for my simple home, my comfortable recliner with both heat and massage functions, and my micro-plush sheets that keep me warm and comfy even on the coldest nights.
Look around the room you are in right now, or if you are blind, feel around the area where you are. What is there right near that you can be thankful for? Did you find something? Don’t forget it. That person, place or thing is your first step to accessing the power of gratitude.
3. Look Backwards
“Gratitude makes sense of our past, brings peace for today, and creates a vision for tomorrow.” – Melody Beattie
Sometimes the things we are coping with make it especially difficult to find a reason to be grateful today. Years ago, I lost my best friend suddenly in a horrific car accident. For weeks and months after, it was very hard to find any reason to express gratitude.
Considerable time has passed, and now I can see clearly the reasons to be grateful. I still miss my friend each and every day. Even so, I am incredibly thankful for the time that she was part of my life. She taught me to be a better person, some lessons that I am only now realizing years later.
It’s okay if today gratitude feels out of reach. If at all possible, think back to people or events from your past that you can be grateful for now.
4. Look Where You Are
“Happiness cannot be traveled to, owned, earned, worn or consumed. Happiness is the spiritual experience of living every minute with love, grace, and gratitude.” – Denis Waitley
Many people spend their entire lives striving to find happiness. When you have a chronic illness, it can be hard at times to summon enough energy to just find the kitchen. Believe me, I know that all too well.
Fortunately, gratitude is not something that requires effort. Who do you love? How many people love you? Do you have a faithful pet?
Everything that you love is a reason to be grateful. Everyone that loves you is double the reason.
5. Demonstrate by Action
“As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words, but to live by them.” – John F. Kennedy
Gratitude does not have to be expressed in words. Your cat knows that you are grateful for her because you pet her and give her a safe place to live and food to eat. My cat knows I am grateful by the elaborate bed I bought for her to sleep in.
Since acts of gratitude are so simple, what other ways can you demonstrate your thankfulness? Do you have a caregiver helping you out? Smile at them and be cooperative as they care of you. Most likely, they will express gratitude in return.
If you are relatively healthy, there are numerous ways to show people how you feel. Do something nice and unexpected for someone. It can be as simple as an “I’m thinking of you” card or a small gift.
Children feel loved and grateful if you take the time to listen and play with them. Show them that you are grateful to have them in your life by showering quality time upon them.
6. Be Transformed
“Gratitude can transform common days into thanksgivings, turn routine jobs into joy, and change ordinary opportunities into blessings.” – William Arthur Ward
Finding gratitude can literally change your world. You can choose to be unhappy because your car is older or in less than pristine condition. Or, you can choose to be grateful that it still works and enables you to get to the places you need to go.
It’s the same car. The only thing that changes is how you look at it.
This is true for anything and everything in your life.
I hate going to the doctor. I’m sure that I am not alone among mental illness warriors that feels this way. In fact, I hate everything about going to the doctor, from waiting for too long in uncomfortable chairs to getting up on the scale to be reminded that I have not lost the weight that I promised I would.
Something Good Happened
There are lots of reasons to be miserable about going to the doctor.
That said, I am incredibly grateful for the medical clinic that helps care for me. After decades of being sick with no one able to figure out why an internist in my medical group was able to diagnose me with Familial Mediterranean Fever.
The most amazing thing about the diagnosis is that no one in the entire clinic had ever heard of the disease before me. Perplexed by my ongoing symptoms, the internist took my medical file home with him one weekend (yes, they still had paper files just a couple years ago), and poured over the entire contents. Completely by surprise, he stumbled across a possible diagnosis. Further tests proved it was the right diagnosis.
Every day I am grateful to my doctors for this gift. I have validation and the proof I’m not crazy (well, not just crazy), but that for years there has really been something physically wrong with me.
So now, I happily sit in those awful waiting room chairs and for as long as it takes. Gratitude has changed the whole experience for me.
7. Move Forward
“Develop an attitude of gratitude, and give thanks for everything that happens to you, knowing that every step forward is a step toward achieving something bigger and better than your current situation.” – Brian Tracy
Maintaining a proper mindset will help you to cope with even the most challenging of situations. It’s the whole “is the glass half empty or half full” scenario.
Patients that have been through a stroke or a disabling accident frequently struggle with depression because they are not improving as fast they would like. Again, there are two ways to look at things.
One, you can become fixated on all the things you can’t do.
Two, you can focus on the things you’ve already accomplished and the ways your body has already healed.
When there’s a situation to overcome that will take considerable time, be sure to celebrate every small victory. Were you able to move a portion of your body that you couldn’t before? Have you had bandages, casts or drains removed? Is there any increase in strength?
Those are all wins. Celebrate them.
Focusing on the areas where you have improved helps you to realize that you are making progress. True, progress may be slow, but it’s still progress. The turtle may not be the first one to reach a party, but he will eventually get there. So will you.
8. Let It Change You
“I am happy because I’m grateful. I choose to be grateful. That gratitude allows me to be happy.” – Will Arnett
It might seem like an oversimplification to say that gratitude is a choice, but it really is that simple. Happiness and gratitude are inextricably linked.
By choosing to find reasons to be grateful, you development contentment and appreciation. Those positive mindsets naturally lead to being happier.
What things can you choose to be grateful for? Take a few minutes and see if you can write down five things. Try to write another five tomorrow. Concentrate on these gifts and happiness will follow.
9. Give It Away
“Feeling gratitude and not expressing it is like wrapping a present and not giving it.” – William Arthur Ward
Have you ever purchased a gift for someone and then not given it to them. I have to be honest and tell you I have done this more than once.
That gift, sitting on a shelf or table in my home, did nothing to bring joy to me or the person it was purchased for.
Expressing gratitude is a free gift that you can give to others. Is someone in your life a good listener? Thank them. Do you have help in getting to doctors or therapy appointments? Let the driver know how many you appreciate the ride. Does someone check on you regularly? Tell them how much that helps you.
Get your gratiitude gift off the shelf and give it to others.
Everyone loves getting presents. With gratitude, you have lots to give away.
10. Pay Attention
“I don’t have to chase extraordinary moments to find happiness – it’s right in front of me if I’m paying attention and practicing gratitude.” – Brene Brown
When you are dealing with mental illness, it’s all too easy to get fixated on the negative ways that the illness affects your life. I’m not going to pretend those things aren’t true. Being sick sucks, and there’s no way around that.
However, even in the worst of times, there are reasons you can practice gratitude. Pay attention to what’s right in front of you, and you will see some of those reasons.
For me, I am grateful for beautiful sunsets, Krispy Kreme doughnuts, and my crazy cat. Oh, and this morning, I am thankful for pain medicine. It may not completely take away my pain, but it usually takes enough of the bite away so that I can function and earn a living.
What’s in front of you right now?
11. Focus on It
“When we focus on our gratitude, the tide of disappointment goes out and the tide of love rushes in.” – Kristin Armstrong
This quote means a lot to me because it reminds me of the ocean, and the beach is one of my favorite places to be. The ocean and beach are great metaphors. The sand on the beach cannot change where the ocean takes it, whether it is washed inland or out to sea. That’s okay for the sand because it still looks beautiful and contributes to an inviting beach wherever the ocean places it.
Similarly, you may have no control over all the ways that your illness affects your life. However, with gratitude, you can learn to appreciate the good things that your illness has not taken from you. If you can see, walk, talk, or taste your food, those are all reasons to be grateful. Appreciate everything and it will make coping with the worst possible.
12. Express It
“Gratitude is the healthiest of all human emotions. The more you express gratitude for what you have, the more likely you will have even more to express gratitude for.” – Zig Ziglar
Personally, I don’t believe in the whole, “If you build it, they will come,” mentality. While keeping a positive attitude will do much to improve the quality of your life, there is no sound basis for believing that just because you can imagine something that it will happen.
With that in mind, I don’t believe that what Zig Ziglar was implying here was that if you are thankful you will get more good things. Instead, I believe that when you learn to show gratitude for everything, every new reason to be grateful becomes easier to recognize.
For instance, if today is one of the good days, and good is a very relative term when you live with chronic illness, be grateful for that fact. Starting the day with gratitude will help you see additional reasons for joy throughout the day.
I am frequently grateful for food. Health restrictions keep me from doing many of the things I used to love to do, but good food is something you can almost always enjoy. Even the days I have to stick to a liquid diet, I am grateful for the strawberries or other fruit in my smoothie.
Keep your eyes open today for reasons to be grateful. As you do so, notice how many new reasons to grateful come into view.
13. Learn From It
“No one ever said learning was to be easy, but it’s part of the process of evolving as a human being, and we all have to go through it. When I look back, I see that each difficult time brought an important lesson. And I prefer to look at it with gratitude because I wouldn’t be who I am today if I haven’t gone through it all.” – Gisele Bundchen
You may only think about learning life’s lessons when it comes to mistakes you make in regard to spending, relationships or employment. Living with a mental disorder is just as important.
I am a big proponent of journaling. One reason is that journaling gives you a great way to sort out all the things in your head. Living with bipolar, my mind is often full of voices and fast-moving thoughts. Journaling helps to quiet those voices.
In addition, I keep a health journal. I keep it in the same book, but for the health journal, I record what I eat, how I feel, my pain level, and what activities I do. Keeping these records, especially in regard to the persistent low-grade fevers, was integral to helping my doctor to diagnose me with Familial Mediterranean Fever. That’s a huge reason for gratitude.
But there’s more. By keeping a health journal, I can more easily spot trends of, “Okay, when I did this, then later I felt like that.” I haven’t mastered my illnesses, but I have come a long way in knowing what things will make me feel better or worse. Each of those insights is a reason for me to be thankful.
What have you learned about your illness’ behavior? Are there trends that you now know will help make this better or make them worse? Be grateful for each lesson you have learned.
14. Make Up Your Mind
“At the age of 18, I made up my mind to never have another bad day in my life. I dove into an endless sea of gratitude from which I’ve never emerged.” – Patch Adams
It may not be as simple as choosing to never have another bad day when bipolar or another mental disorder holds sway over you. However, you also shouldn’t dismiss the power in making the choice to be better.
Long before I was finally diagnosed with Familial Mediterranean Fever, I was having so many bad days that it seemed like my illness was becoming my whole identity. So, one day, I decided that rather than talking about how much I was suffering, I would greet each person in my life with a smile and tell them I was good.
A surprising thing happened along the way – I started to feel some better. With current medical knowledge, I will never be cured. However, by keeping a smile on my face, I enjoy life more and others enjoy being around me more.
Make the choice to be grateful and notice how your life and health starts to change over time.
15. Unlock Life
“Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. It turns what we have into enough, and more. It turns denial into acceptance, chaos to order, confusion to clarity. It can turn a meal into a feast, a house into a home, a stranger into a friend.” – Melody Beattie
This is an excellent quote to close with for today. All of us want a full life. Illness does its best to restrict our lives, but we can beat the negativity by choosing to be grateful.
I don’t live in a fancy house in a high-class neighborhood, but I do have a comfortable home that supplies all my needs. I choose to be grateful for the latter. Typically I cannot eat what or as much as I want, but I always have enough to eat and it usually tastes good. Gratitude helps me to be thankful for the small things.
Turning the spotlight on gratitude helps you to see ways that you are already blessed. Recognizing those blessings leads to contentment and happiness. You have a lot even if you have little. Be grateful for what you have and everything will improve.
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