The Healing Power of Gratitude


GRATITUDE is the springboard back to joy and is a powerful tool for anyone on a healing journey. When it comes to cancer or chronic illness it’s not uncommon to deal with physical pain, functional limitation, fatigue, fear, anger, and sadness and it can be easy to get stuck in a spiral of negative thinking and feeling. Trust me, I’ve been there. I’ve walked through breast cancer and numerous health challenges in the past decade. I know how the heaviness of a dreaded diagnosis and swirling emotions makes you feel like you’re drowning and desperate to come up for air.

You need a hack to get you out of the vortex of negativity and that’s where gratitude comes in. I like to call it a superpower, because it can get you out of that place of fear, stress and worry and raise your vibration to one conducive to healing. Staying stuck in the fear and stress can create more disease and disharmony in the body, so it’s important to have tools to help us get un-stuck. I know in times of difficulty, crisis, or illness it may seem impossible to be grateful. However, the reality is that there is always something to be grateful for…yes…always.

Invoking the power of gratitude takes more than “thinking good thoughts” or merely trying to “be more grateful.” Gratitude requires the use of the head and the activation of the heart. In the moments of darkness and difficulty, you can activate your gratitude superpower by consciously choosing to find and focus with your mind on what you are grateful for. Start small. You can be grateful that your partner bought the soft, fluffy toilet paper instead of the scratchy kind. You can be grateful for the potted geranium on your window sill that you love to look at. You can be grateful for your dog that’s always excited to see you when you come home. The possibilities are endless. Next, you must feel appreciation for that particular person, thing or situation and this is where the heart gets involved. Watch how choosing to focus your thoughts + feelings on what you are thankful for, your load lightens a bit and the enormity of the fear or sadness begins to subside or fall away altogether. The more you cultivate and practice gratitude, the better you are able to shift your thinking, feelings, perceptions and energy to a higher, more positive vibration.

Practicing gratitude spills over into all aspects of your life and the following benefits may be experienced as a result:
• improved immunity
• decreased stress levels and improved ability to handle stress and crisis
• improved energy levels
• improved sense of well-being and happiness
• strengthening of relationships and social bonds
• transformation of anger into forgiveness
• transformation of fear into faith and courage
• enhances self-esteem
• better sleep

Don’t just think of gratitude as a superpower you can use in rough patches, but also as a daily practice that when cultivated charges your inner battery and translates into the experience of more joy, peace, healing and vitality. The more you practice, the more you benefit. I have all my clients incorporate gratitude as part of their daily morning practice and I’ve witnessed time and time again how transformative it can me. I highly recommend giving it a try!

3 Steps to Follow to Create a Daily Gratitude Practice:

1) Contemplation

Begin the day contemplating and jotting down five things you are truly grateful for. Don’t just go through the motions and try to avoid using the same things every day (i.e. husband/wife, dog, house, health, etc.). Be specific. It can be big things or small things. It doesn’t matter.

For example: “I am grateful for watching the sunrise while I drink my delicious cup of matcha tea.”

2) Thought + Feeling

Breathe in and out of your heart slowly and deeply. Using the five things you’ve just written down, pick one, and visualize it. Spend time letting the elevated feeling of gratitude wash over you. Really feel it! Spend a couple minutes with this visualization and elevated emotion. Science teaches us that combining the intentional thought + the elevated emotion is where the magic is at in terms of positively impacting your body and creating more of what you desire.

3) Integration

It’s time to extend and expand your gratitude to the people in your life. When you include others in your experience of gratitude, the feeling amplifies and it creates ripples of more gratitude and love in your life and the entire world. You can do this in a few different ways. I recommend visualizing a person whom you are grateful for in your mind’s eye and sending him/her virtual gratitude, love, and blessings. You can also extend gratitude by calling them up on the phone, telling them in person, or writing them a note. Tell the people in your life how much you love them and how grateful you are for them. Take an opportunity to tell someone how something they did or said meant a lot to you or inspired and uplifted you. You may also choose to express appreciation by a tangible gift or act of service, which is also a beautiful expression of gratitude.

Intentional thought combined with regenerative feelings of love and gratitude can help us tap into the body’s innate power to heal and unleash our co-creative abilities to manifest and create the desires of our hearts. Thinking and imagining your dreams (as if your dream has already been fulfilled) while being in the positive feeling state of appreciation, sends an electromagnetic signature to the Universe pulling your desires toward you. Spending time daily thinking and imagining yourself vibrant and healthy, feeling the feelings of what it feels like to be healthy, and feeling gratitude for your healthy body (as if it’s already happening now) is one of the most powerfully healing practices you can do. Trust me, I’ve experienced this first hand!

Many years ago, I was on disability, chronically ill, emaciated and dealing with chronic pain and rashes all over my body. I was miserable and depressed. The only way I could fall asleep at night was to place ice packs all over my body to numb the pain. One day my husband crawled in bed with me and asked me what my dream was. I was annoyed at his request, but I rolled my eyes and played along. He asked me to close my eyes and visualize my dream. To my surprise, my imagination took me to a gorgeous beach with the waves crashing on the shore and the sun brightly shining. I was in a colorful bikini, with clear, healthy tan skin, a strong body and walking hand in hand with my beloved. We were smiling, talking, and laughing. I felt healthy, light and free…and so grateful. I smiled and opened my eyes and proceeded to tell Chad about everything I saw. Just by imagining my dream and feeling the feelings of my wish fulfilled created a change in me. I felt more relaxed and I even smiled. This scenario was a far cry from my current reality, but I started to visualize this scenario daily and invoke the power of gratitude for the healthy woman I saw and felt in my vision. When I started to feel hopeless and afraid I would come back to this over and over again. I’m happy and grateful to say that the scenario I visualized thousands of time played out in real life years later on the beautiful beaches of Costa Rica.

Gratitude is indeed a superpower and can be in an invaluable tool for any women navigating cancer or a chronic illness of any kind. Gratitude uplifts, inspires, energizes, connects, heals, and creates. By getting grateful you are raising your vibrational frequency and moving into a state that is more conducive to healing and experiencing the life that you dream of having! Make it a point to activate this SUPERPOWER daily in order to supercharge your health and happiness!

If you want to learn more tools, tips and essentials on how to overcome your health challenges, regain your vitality, invite more peace
and joy into your life and truly THRIVE:

You can download a FREE copy of Dr. Walding’s book:
Sick of Being Sick: The Woman’s Holistic Guide to Conquering Chronic Illness

Go to: WWW.SICKOFBEINGSICKBOOK.COM to get your copy or email me at

Dr. Brenda Walding is a Holistic Wellness & Transformation Coach and specializes in supporting and empowering women to truly heal and thrive. She is the author of Sick of Being Sick: The Women’s Holistic Guide to Conquering Chronic Illness and is a Doctor of Physical Therapy. Brenda is a Functional Diagnostic Nutrition practitioner, TaoFlow yoga teacher, HeartMath Certified Coach, and women’s holistic health advocate.

She currently resides outside of Austin, Texas on the beautiful Lake Travis with her husband and dog. Brenda loves spending time in nature, connecting with her family and friends, dancing, facilitating sacred women’s circles, and learning about holistic healing and spirituality.

Dr. Brenda Walding, DPT, FDN-P
Doctor of Physical Therapy
Holistic Health & Transformation Coach
Author of Sick of Being Sick: The Woman’s Holistic Guide to Conquering Chronic Illness

Scroll to Top