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Feeling Thankful Even When It’s Tough

Feeling Thankful Even When It’s Tough

Living with or caring for someone with a chronic condition like Parkinson’s disease (PD) can bring about its fair share of stresses and fears. These overwhelming emotions can cause us to forget about the positives that may still be present all around us. Many of our community members and advocates have shared that learning to find the good in an often-bleak situation has changed their attitude and perspective on life with PD. Several of these individuals have shared how they have found the positives and practiced thankfulness during their PD journey. Read on to find out more about some of their amazing tips.

Tip #1: Changing your brain

One of our advocates suggests that gratitude starts within you. If we take steps to practice gratitude daily, we can develop habits that will become second nature throughout the rest of our lives. By consciously trying to express gratitude and being aware of when we’re doing it, we may be able to influence our long-term mindset. Keeping a gratitude journal and performing small acts of kindness are a few examples of small steps that can be taken to develop lasting results. These stepping stones can help train our brains to be more positive, happier, and healthier even in the most trying times.

Tip #2: Finding abundance

Learning to genuinely appreciate what you have and determining purpose in your life are sometimes referred to as finding abundance. True abundance comes from the joys, friendships, family, and memories you have created, and can be found by focusing on what you have instead of what you don’t. Things we are grateful for can come in many forms, and may not be anything enormous or grand. We can be grateful for the smaller, simpler things in life that we just need to take the time to notice. It is important to find peace and gratitude with what you have, and in what you have to offer, even if these are different from previous goals and desires that you’ve had in the past.

Tip #3: Recognizing blessings

Another advocate and caregiver suggest that although it may be difficult some days, it’s possible that there are still blessings all around you. It just might take some time and creativity to recognize them. When living with PD, each new day and a fresh start might be looked at as a blessing. Some of our blessings may take the form of friends we’ve met along our PD journey, family, doctors, and caregivers who are right in front of us.

Tip #4: Trying to look on the bright side

Feelings of thankfulness may be easier to experience when we find a way to chase the blues away. Doing things that you enjoy or that make you feel good might make a tremendous difference in creating and maintaining a positive mindset. Whether this means taking a few minutes to sit outside in the sun, or making small, easy to complete to-do lists that allow you to accomplish short-term goals, small mood boosts can make a tremendous difference and lead to feelings of gratitude or positivity. Music, exercise, meditation, and yoga are also all wonderful ways to combat negativity and stress to keep you feeling thankful.

Tip #5: Hope

Having hope is not simply believing everything is going to be fine or being overwhelmingly positive. Instead, one of our advocates challenges that hope can come in many forms including sharing and talking with others, exercising, and eating right. Hope is also engaging, educating and creating awareness. Hope is being proactive and remaining enthusiastic about a cure. Practicing hope is a journey that can help us get past setbacks and difficult days. When we keep hope alive, we remain thankful and open to our future.

Life with a chronic condition may be better if we try to create an attitude of thankfulness. Every day may not be perfect, but with a grateful attitude, negativity and anger may diminish, and overall experiences might improve.


  • Katherine1953
    1 year ago

    I’ve had Parkinson’s since 2012. I’m in the “middle” stage of it now. I’ve learned to live with lots of things and not get upset with myself, or Parkinson’s, such as breaking the better part of one set of dishes and glassware, and falling with multiple dislocations and fractures. However, I was NOT able to just “be with” my illness and feel like it’s OK to have it until the past couple of weeks. I’m not sure what made this change occur. I’m just so happy it did. The realization was that LOTS and LOTS of people are dealing with bad chronic diseases — not only neurological (ALS and Huntington’s Chorea being WAAAY worse than Parkinson’s) — but all sorts of other diseases such as Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis; rheumatoid arthritis; severe lupus; heart failure; quadraplegia and paraplegia to name a few. And then, of course, there are people struggling to beat metastatic cancer, and others with terminal cancer. So why should I feel like I’m somehow “special”/unique in my suffering? Millions of people are out there dealing with problems just as difficult as mine. (And that’s not to even mention the tens of millions of people starving to death, and those being held in prisons in terrible conditions.) OK. So I don’t LIKE having Parkinson’s. I don’t want to have Parkinson’s! That’s fine. But you have it, learn to accept it, and get on with the rest of your life — and make that as happy as possible. After all, the ability to be happy is a “choice”.

  • Chris H. moderator
    1 year ago

    Thanks so much for sharing your thoughts, @Katherine1953. It really does sound like you’ve moved into a place of acceptance. I thought you might be interested in reading Brooke’s article on radical acceptance: We appreciate your perspective! Take care. – Chris, Team

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