A Simple Way to Feel More Joy and Peace
When You Have Chronic Fatigue Syndrome or Fibromyalgia

Image of woman feeling gratitude

Let the sun burst through the clouds.

It can be challenging to keep up your spirits as, on a daily basis, you have to face your symptoms and possibly other illness-related hardships, such as loss of relationships or financial stress.

Therefore I want to share with you a simple technique for filling up your reserves of emotional energy. The technique is called “making a gratitude list”.

I made my first gratitude list at a time when I was still so ill with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (ME/CFS) that I thought I would never be able to work or exercise again, and was sure my partner would abandon me. While I was slow to discover aspects of my life to be grateful for at first, I eventually discovered more and more as I stuck with the practice. When I contemplated what I was grateful for, it helped me to forget for a moment all that I was lacking.

Over the last four years of looking out for little things in my life to be grateful for, feeling grateful has become second nature, and now I can count on it as a continued source of positive emotional energy.

If you want this too, have a look with me at this simple technique for feeling better:

How to Make a Gratitude List

Although making a gratitude list is really easy by nature, you might still find these tips helpful for making it work when you have ME/CFS or FM.

  1. Start with a mini-step. It’s already a great success if you can find just one or two items that you feel grateful for. Making a gratitude list for only three to five minutes each day will add up to a significant number of things you’re grateful for in no time. Just be sure that you pick a place to keep the items you’ve come up with, so that you can easily refer back to them. You could use a journal or a document on your computer.
  2. How to get in touch with your gratitude immediately. Make each item a full sentence that you begin with “I’m grateful for … “ or “I’m grateful that.” This will help you to get in touch with the gratitude you feel for the items on your list, instead of just making a list of things and people.
  3. Can’t find anything you are grateful for? Even in our hardest times, we can still feel gratitude and joy through the following technique I learned from Toni Bernhardt, a fellow ME/CFS patient and author of How to Be Sick. The trick is to feel gratitude for something beautiful in the life of a loved one. Look at my video about feeling gratitude for the happiness of others.

Try it out

Equipped with these three tips, give it a try! Take a couple of minutes to ponder what you are grateful for.

My gratitude list from when I was very ill

For some additional inspiration, here is a list of items I was able to still be grateful for when I was still severely sick from 2007 to 2009:

Example:

Note that in item eleven I use tip #3, feeling grateful for the good in the life of my loved-ones.

  1. I am grateful that my family loves me very much.
  2. I am grateful that I have access to the best treatments.
  3. I am grateful that I could always step out of this life and join Jesus in paradise.
  4. I experience some peace when I can snuggle up to Erin at night.
  5. Erin has adapted to my smell-sensitivity by not putting baby powder in her hair at night.
  6. I have a quiet place where I can rest.
  7. I have the Soften and Flow meditation from the Gupta Program to listen to.
  8. There is the possibility that I will get better.
  9. I have easy access to a wide selection of healthy groceries.
  10. My family is close by.
  11. My brother is healthy and happy.
  12. My father might make the world a better place with his inventions.
  13. I have my sister and her friends.
  14. I can lie on the couch in the living room and witness the mirth of my lovely family.
  15. I am grateful that I feel happier since I’ve begun the Gupta Program.
  16. I’ve learned how to stop fear- and sadness-producing negative thoughts and think happiness-inducing thoughts.
  17. If I ever get re-born, I might become a world-famous soccer player.
  18. Jesus has died for all our sins, so I will go to paradise for sure.
  19. Seeing a beautiful woman brings me joy.
  20. Taking a bath with Erin brings me joy.
  21. Seeing my parents sing in their church choir brings me joy.
  22. I have small periods of time during the day when I can work on a project that brings me joy, for instance drawing a picture for Erin or learning some css web design.

Over to you

Let’s inspire each other with what we are grateful for. If you can think of something, please post it in the comments (starting with “I am grateful for/that” if you want to do it the “official” way ;))

Please also share any thoughts or questions you may have.

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