I have been keeping a gratitude diary for a month. This is one of the recommendations of Dr Ranjan Chatterjee in his book The Four Pillar Plan (Penguin 2018). He says it’s not enough just to think about it- you need to write down 10 things for which you are grateful every day. The first few are easy, but then you have to think back over your day and recognise small things. After a while, you start to be grateful for things as they happen.

Working at Knysna Sedgefield Hospice can be emotionally draining, but gratitude really buoys up one’s spirits.  Recently I received a thank you note from the mother of a patient whom we cared for: “Words cannot say or at any stage repay the generous and selfless assistance towards our beloved T. and my family.”

I gave a talk to professional group in town and people expressed appreciation as they left, but what really moved me was a few hours after the talk, one of the participants (who knew I had been rather nervous) phoned me up to give her thanks and positive feedback about my talk.

We all recognise that when things go wrong, it’s usually about a problem of communication. Keeping gratitude in mind and taking the time to express it in a diary trains one’s mind to approach each day with gratitude. The next step for which this prepares one is to express gratitude in person. It does not take a lot of time, but it really lifts the spirits of the person who gives gratitude and the one who receives it.

Dr Janet Stanford