The Attitude of Gratitude with Fibromyalgia/CFS/ME
"Gratitude can transform common days into thanksgivings, turn routine jobs into job,
and change ordinary opportunities into blessings."
William Arthur Ward
Living with something like Fibromyalgia, Chronic Fatigue, or Myalgic Encephalpmyelitis can
be a challenge, especially when it comes to keeping a healthy attitude about gratitude.
Dr. Wayne Dyer, is one of the quintessential, modern-day guru's on gratitude. He has
written books including the topic, and his book "The Power of Intention" includes
an entire chapter on gratitude and why we should always be in a state of gratitude, about
everyone and everything. Easier said than done, when your day and nights are filled with
pain and fatigue.
Practicing gratitude, is much like meditation; it has to be something you consciously work
at every day. Living with chronic pain, it may seem natural to notice and focus on the
pain. Practicing the simple act of gratitude, can cause the brain to make a shift. If
every day one is focusing on the pain, and constantly complaining,...the body will project
that attitude. Have you found yourself saying ouch when you move, or constantly
verbalizing your pain to your family members, to a partner, spouse, or friend? When you
change a thought process, it can be an amazing experience, to see the change in your
health, and relationships.
Utilizing gratitude can start out simply, something like being grateful for the roof over
your head, and to remember that some people are not so fortunate. Try to consciously think
about being thankful for the meal you had, for the clothes you have. Nature can be
another aspect, to be grateful for the sunshine, the greenery, or, being in awe of a
perfect flower in bloom. While the weather can play havoc with our bodies, it is possible
to find something, one small thing and just be grateful for it. Being in a state of
gratitude also brings compassion and empathy for others, especially in light of poorly
understood illnesses like Fibromyalgia/CFS/ME. When doctors, family, or friends do not
understand, just having someone else that get's it, can be a profound and positive
experience for others. Don't forget about caregivers, it is extremely important to
express gratitude to those that help us on a daily basis. It is easy to lose your
identity, roles, and statuses with the changes of living with a chronic illness.
In a study by Pia Asbring BA RN, there is an identity transformation that takes place
among women with CFS and Fibromyalgia, while this study was specific to women, the
ideology applies to men as well. According to the study, "The main findings are that: (1)
the illnesses can involve a radical disruption in the women's biography that has profound
consequences for their identity, particularly in relation to work and social life," It is
not just the work and social life that suffer, the ability to complete tasks in the home,
that were once easy, become a source of guilt." Having the ability to appreciate, and be
thankful for what one can do, is certainly healthier than beating yourself up, for what
you can no longer do. Coming to a place of acceptance is the final stage in the grief
process. This does not mean you quit fighting the good fight, but you come to terms in
accepting and figuring out how to live with the condition(s.) It is a challenge to change
a mind set, or a meme, and the most successful patients, have learned the art of gratitude.
Jen Reynolds of FibroTV, who has Fibromyalgia and Lupus,shared her insight on gratitude.
"The first thing I do when I wake up in the morning is thank The Universe/God for giving
me the precious gift of life for yet another day. Starting my day off with pure
appreciation for the miracle of life always makes the rest of the day better! If I were to
wake up and the first thing I thought about was how much pain I was going to be in that
sets up the entire day up for just that. Pain and dispair. It is very important to start
the day right and I believe gratitude is the way to go!"
Toni Bernhard, a former law professor, now lives with Chronic Fatigue, and has a published
book, "How To Be Sick, A Buddhist-Inspired Guide for the Chronically Ill." Toni
also shared her thoughts on gratitude. "Practicing gratitude keeps me focused on the many
blessings in my life despite my health problems. Without gratitude by my side, I can find
myself ruminating on my losses and on what I can no longer do. Turning my attention to the
blessings in my life brings me joy, and so I feel great gratitude for the practice of
As Melody Beattie says, "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.
Gratitude makes sense of our past, brings peace for today, and creates a vision for
tomorrow." Practicing gratitude can also help with the transition to the adaption
process. When you are thinking that you just want your life back to the way it used to
be, instead of living in the past, mourn the past, then move on, and be grateful for what
you have in your life now. Consider giving yourself a gratitude make-over, or challenge,
for 30 days. You can use a notebook, or a journal, and write it down, post it on your
Facebook, or Twitter account, and see if it makes a difference in how you feel. I'll
start, today, I am grateful for an illness, that has brought some truly wonderful friends
into my life!