This year, as we celebrate another Thanksgiving, I have to remind myself that I have a lot to be thankful for. They say it’s human nature to focus on the negative. After all, back in the caveman days, it was the bad, scary stuff we had to pay attention to in order to stay alive. Enjoying the pretty flowers without being aware of possible dangers would have gotten us killed.
In this day and age, I have to remind myself to focus on the positives rather than the negatives. A while back, I came across an exercise called Find the Good in this New York Times article:
It involves writing down 3 things that went well that day. You do so right before bedtime, and also write why each good thing happened. Per the article, it helps train your mind to focus on the positives.
I happened to go to a conference on physician wellness last month, and one of the speakers was someone who is involved in research with this exercise. He said the reason to do it before going to sleep is that it helps solidify the thoughts. In a similar fashion, he said it’s good to study important things before going to bed, if say you have a test the next day.
By doing this exercise nightly for just 2 weeks, he says it improves people’s moods better than an antidepressant like Prozac. And even when they stop doing the exercise, there are lasting improvements.
For me personally, I’d done the exercise nightly for much longer than 2 weeks, but I was still under so much stress from work that I still felt burnt out. So I eventually stopped doing it, and haven’t been doing it lately. With that said, I think there is still value in this exercise and it’s worthwhile to spend the time doing it. The time commitment is minimal and the possible rewards are significant.
Since I’ve gotten away from the daily exercise, I need to remind myself to focus on the good things in my life. Especially since it’s Thanksgiving weekend. I have an amazing husband, who has been unbelievably supportive this year as I have struggled with the stresses of work, and infertility. He takes care of much of the things around the house, cooks dinner on his off days, and foots more of the child care responsibilities than I do. Oh yes, and he still works full-time.
We have a healthy, happy son who is thriving in his new preschool 2 days per week as we’ve transitioned away from the in-home nanny. He is an active kid, learning new words rapidly, and is full of laughter and fun. Well, you know, except when he’s tired and cranky. In other words, he’s a normal toddler, and I am very grateful for that.
The rest of my family is healthy as well. I am grateful for parents who are able to take care of WZW one day per week now that we no longer have our nanny. My brother and his wife have twins who are now 16 months old, and it’s a joy to see all 3 of the cousins interacting as toddlers. My mother-in-law is helping pick up WZW from preschool, and it’s really helpful to be able to ask my husband’s side of the family for help with him as well.
Despite the stresses of my job, I still enjoy what I do and feel rewarded by taking care of my patients. It is a stable job that provides financial security. With the recent fires in the North Bay, as well as the other natural disasters that have occurred this year, I feel grateful to have a stable home.
My tendency is often to focus on the negative- so far I’ve tried one cycle of IUI unsuccessfully and will continue to try. It is a challenge, but I have to keep reminding myself that there are others in much more difficult situations in terms of their fertility struggles. One of my friends recently told me she is on her 8th frozen embryo cycle of IVF. She already has one child like me, so even then we both know we are lucky to already have one child.
So I have to keep actively reminding myself of all of the above, rather than letting my mind focus on all of the challenges I’m going through. It’s fine to acknowledge that there are various things that are stressful and difficult. And some days are going to be harder than others. With that said, even writing what I just did about all that I am grateful for makes me feel better, and helps put things into perspective.
Here is our little guy with his new haircut. Mommy wanted a break from WZW’s hair care for a while, so for Halloween we chopped all of his curls off. Don’t worry, we’ll let it grow back.