Being told to "Count your blessings," when you are hurting can be maddening. "Can't they see I'm sad, anxious, troubled?" But research suggests that counting blessings and expressing gratitude, in your head or in writing, can have value. First, it reminds us that things aren't all black and dark. We tend to overweight the negative and undervalue the positive, especially when we are in a negative spiral, so counting blessings and expressing gratitude counter-balances this natural tendency we have. Second, if your busy counting blessings, you are not going over and over the negative things that are on your mind.
But, what if you find yourself low on blessings? Well, perhaps that's a sign to work on building blessings. Work on friendships, work on our relationship with our children, parents or siblings, work on our marriage. Maybe its time to go back to school, or get that additional work certification. Maybe its time to work on our health, exercise, eat healthier, drink less. Perhaps its time to go back to Church or Synagogue or volunteer to help others, sharing your skills and creating blessings in another's life.
If you are stuck and can't seem to turn around your anxiety, depression, or distress, that's when you might want to start a conversation about this with your family physician or look to a psychologist or mental health professional. Many people benefit greatly from psychotherapy and the help a mental health professional can provide getting you on a positive track. The essence of therapy is a positive relationship with a caring professional, identifying where you are undervaluing what you have, and helping you make changes to improve the quality of your life.