When my husband left for his first year-long deployment, I was all about counting down the days until he’d be home.
At first, watching another day come to pass was a huge morale boost, but there eventually came a point when counting down the days we’d overcome turned to dwelling on the overwhelming amount of time we’d spent apart.
I knew exactly how many hours and minutes we’d been on opposite sides of the world, and how many we had left between us.
I knew how many milestones my husband had missed, and howmany months-worth of quality bonding time he and our baby boy would never get back.
I began counting the days in how many diapers I’d changed, nights I’d tossed and turned with worry, how many times the truck had broken down, the renters needed repairs, and how many times I’d needed my husband, and he wasn’t there.
The truth is, it’s easy for me to keep track of how much we’ve given up, but counting the moments lost has a way of breeding anger, resentment and bitterness.
Instead of continuing to count the costs of military life (not only the months of separation, but the number of moves and other sacrifices we’ve had to make) I chose to start a gratitude journal, and it is one of the best things I have ever done for myself when it comes to reducing stress.
Every day, I make time to sit down and write something I’m thankful for in a special notebook I picked out just for this exercise. Some days, it takes a lot of effort, and I have to dig down deep to find something to be grateful for, but when I do, it never fail to shift my perspective and help me to better see the positives amidst the challenges and stresses of our everyday circumstances.
This activity has helped me to see that the old saying is true: no matter what, there is always, always, always something to be thankful for.
By Courtney Woodruff