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'What are you grateful for?'

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Midwifery student editor, Anna, has found writing down three things she’s grateful for each day has helped her focus on the positives and kept the negatives at bay

Recently I have been writing down three things I am grateful for every day. It is believed that training the mind to focus on gratitude alters one’s perspective. It brings joy to the forefront of your mind and pushes negativity backstage, where it can loiter in darkness until the third week of every month. It is at this point that it suddenly reawakens and runs head-on toward centre stage for a grand ensemble of oestrogen-fuelled mania. Goodbye, gratitude list. I am not thankful for my endocrine system on that day.

Third-week mishap aside, the ‘thankful for’ routine has proved useful in identifying the good things in life. I’ve been able to neutralise difficult days with snippets of enjoyable moments. It turns out there are many more ‘thankful for’ moments in a day than you might expect, and it’s amazing what can make the cut as I sit (for hours) considering my many options. Once I’ve discarded the obvious ‘thankful for’ facts of life (insert any carb here), I am left with a satisfyingly basic list:

1. The ‘edit-undo’ button

Never before has there been a better time for the expression ‘OH MY WORD’. If you have ever been able to create a table in a word document without spending the next 12 hours trying to re-centre your entire 70-page dissertation, I applaud you. I long for the innocence I once had toward the irrelevance of document margins and the inconsequential inability to differentiate between a row and a column. I didn’t realise a crash-course in IT was part of NMC pre-registration requirements, but I am so thankful that my midwifery degree has taught me to never, ever, trust Microsoft Word. I know now with my wisdom that it will ruin you, slowly, table by table. I definitely concluded my dissertation with: Keep your friends close, but your ‘edit-undo’ closer.

2. The 220 bus

I could collapse with thankfulness when I see my beloved 220 pulling up one second after I have completed my long, arduous expedition from hospital to bus stop. Bus 220, your aroma is so delicious, your chairs so comfortable and your company so pleasant. In you I see a beacon of hope — a majestic carriage to carry me home all 107 traffic lights of the way. I’ll side-step the subway on the floor, sit back, inhale (shallowly) and enjoy the welcoming rush-hour companions around me. Side note: If these ‘thankful for’ notes were part of a qualitative thematic analysis of my life, the sub-theme for the 220 bus would be ‘hand sanitiser’.

3. My comrades

You were probably expecting a food item here, but know that it was actually a tough battle between comrades or the reliable functioning of the binding shop the day before our deadline. Comrades won; it doesn’t take much to usurp a £7.50 mandatory course requirement (shoutout for the reduced fee, though — I’m glad somebody appreciates that nursing and midwifery students will never have a spare tenner in their imaginary purse). Yes, the third feature of my gratitude list is my friends. They stand beside me on the battlefield, day in, day out, looking fierce and simultaneously vulnerable in a luminous student uniform (which, in my case, also gradually suffocates me as the shift progresses). I am endlessly thankful that I don’t have to crawl to the 220 on my own, and that I don’t have to re-align my essay margins without 100 other victims doing the same thing as they, too, weep. Incredible people surround me. They’re strong, determined, devoted. They’re kind, funny, heroic. We are so, so close to staring the hardest, most demanding three years of training in the eyes and saying, “Ha! We did it!” (and striding off to drink some Prosecco). So thank you, KCL student midwives. You make my list every day.

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