DBT (Dialectic Behavior Therapy) calls it “Emotion Regulation” but that sounds harsh to me- so I like to call it Emotion Levelling. I hate the thought of regulating emotions and it seems to me that it would be softer, gentler, to level out or balance our emotions. I like the thought of unwanted emotions drifting away from me and the word “regulation” doesn’t really fit with that soft drift. It’s the same concept though, I just changed the title.
The Bible tells us to be grateful and full of thanks even in times of distress. A few years ago, I attended a DBT class every day, all day for two weeks. The requirement was to write out 20 gratitude’s every morning and every evening. This morning I took out my notebook from that class and looked over all of the gratitude’s I had written twice a day.
I was surprised and thoughtful as I looked through them. My dog must have been having problems with her paw and each day I noted that I was thankful she was getting better and better. I also wrote some funny things like, “Bandit went outside effectively” ha-ha! We were potty-training him! Every day I catalogued the things I was thankful for and it came to me as I read them that my mood lifted significantly as I pored over them.
“Give thanks to God no matter what circumstances you find yourselves in.”
1 Thessalonians 5:18
I remember some days trying hard to get to 20 but reading back I don’t see any gratitude’s that were insignificant or stupid. They all made sense. Put in perspective of time, this class was shortly after my son’s death, the darkest part of my life- but every day I had 40 things to be grateful for. It was Winter, so I regularly wrote that I was grateful I had a car with heat.
You can take any notebook or even scrap paper to write your gratitude’s, but I have provided a simple template Gratitude’s Printable PDF that you can use if you like. I find it helpful to write the date on the sheets. It’s interesting to go back and look at them with a date providing context.
Making Gratitude’s work for you:
When you are complaining: Complaining makes your mood worse. You’re being willful when you refuse to stop complaining. Gratitude’s shift our mind from what’s wrong to what’s right.
When you’re depressed: Depression causes us to focus on ourselves and our problems. Gratitude’s help us to focus on satisfying and good things in our lives.
Gratitude’s are Bible Based: God wants us to be happy. The word JOY is mentioned 102 times in the Bible, PRAISE 222 and depending on what version you read LOVE appears between 310 and 538 times. PLUS, there are about 35 verses in the Bible about gratitude and thanksgiving.
“Come face-to-face with God, and give thanks; with loud and joyful voices, praise Him in songs.” Psalm 95:2
Gratitude’s can change our minds: Regularly writing out our gratitude’s can plant seeds of content in our daily lives. We switch our thoughts from those negative clingy ones to the positive. We even begin to recognize, in the moment, things to be grateful for so we can add them to todays’ list.
Gratitude’s help us sleep: Writing out our Gratitude’s in the evening can lower our stress levels and give us calm sleep according to research done by the University of Minnesota and the University of Florida.
I’m sure that if you give it a try, you’ll come up with a lot of personal benefits of being grateful and keeping a journal about it.
“Piglet noticed that even though he had a very small heart, it could hold a rather large amount of gratitude.” ―A.A. Milne