Gratitude: Anxiety’s Antithesis

I have said before that I suffer from anxiety. It permeates every area of my life and sometimes makes daily tasks seem almost herculean. It is with me when I wake up and when I go to sleep, and I can never seem to leave it behind even in my dreams.

But lately I have discovered a weapon to help fight it.

When we are anxious, we are worrying about what might be or what should have been or what things could become, but what we aren’t doing is living in the present. We aren’t seeing what we have here and at this moment. We are too busy thinking of the bad that might happen to consider the good that is.

That is why I think that gratitude will assist in my combat against anxiety.

Gratitude, after all, is the exact opposite of anxiety. Instead of worrying, it appreciates. Instead of focusing on the future, it looks at the present. Instead of seeing the bad, it treasures the good. And with all these strengths, gratitude can level the weakness that is anxiety.

Practicing gratitude is the difficult thing. It is very hard to tear your thoughts from anxiety’s object in order to turn them onto something else. And yet, I believe that it can be done. I believe that we can look away from the future to examine the present and find it good.

It’s an effort, for sure, and for me, it doesn’t always succeed. But I feel that as I get more and more skilled in the exercise of gratitude and more and more fixed in the habit of gratitude, my anxiety will decrease. It has decreased at times and will, no doubt, continue to do so.

The difficulty is what I just said, though. Gratitude is an exercise and a habit, and it takes skill and repetition. Don’t expect that your anxiety will melt away immediately, and don’t give up trying because it doesn’t work fast enough. But practice at it. You and I will practice at it. And together we will eventually work our way to happy and peaceful lives.

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