What are the things that you are most grateful for in your life? Who are the people that you most appreciate? What are the activities that bring you the most relaxation? How do you choose to spend your time when you want to feel joy? What are the places that bring you a sense of calm?
The answers to these questions probably come to you fairly easily. That is because our minds and hearts are good at knowing and feeling what is truly important. This is what makes most people think that maintaining a grateful attitude is easy – but as anyone who has ever been stressed, busy or caught up in the challenges of life can tell you – it is very easy to lose touch with these things.
So how can you continue to keep focused on what you are grateful for when you are feeling bad, or when life is hard? And how can being grateful make a difference to your life?
Here’s why gratitude is important….
People who practice gratitude on a regular basis experience a greater sense of well-being. This includes improved mental health, increased feelings of happiness, better physical health, deeper relationships with partners, stronger connections with family and heightened levels of productivity. It also helps people to feel more confident and contented. In short, practicing gratitude can help us feel better, love better and live better!
In psychology we think about cultivating a grateful attitude as a skill– and like all life skills, it is something that becomes easier with practice. Gratitude is learning to take the time to appreciate the things, people, experiences and events that add value to our lives. This time spent going that reflection helps improves our abilities to be optimistic, positive and resilient. When our resilience is enhanced, we are better able to cope in the face of stress and deal with life’s challenges.
Here’s how you can give it a go…..
We all know deep down what we appreciate most in life, but cultivating a grateful attitude is about making the time everyday to engage in thinking about and experiencing those things. Three simple strategies for beginning to build gratitude into your life are detailed below;
• Journal – The easiest way to start practicing gratitude is to keep a diary. Simply put five minutes aside at the end of every day to write in the diary one thing that you have been grateful for during the day. This can include simple things, like having had a lovely cup of tea; social events, like having had a supportive chat with a friend; or more exciting events, like spending time doing an activity that you enjoy.
• Post – Another option for the tech-savvy or people who enjoy social media would be to sign up to a program like the #100HappyDays project. This promotes people to post on Facebook or Instagram one picture each day in reflection of something that they appreciated or enjoyed during the day. This adds the benefit of including a photo, which can enhance the gratitude in the moment, but also provide a nice collection of visual memories to look back upon.
• Reflect – For those who don’t enjoy the idea of keeping a journal, another option would be to put aside five minutes at the end of the day to sit quietly and mentally reflect upon an event, experience or person that you feel grateful for. This reflective gratitude practice works best when you engage in the memory as fully as possible – visualise the moment in detail, feel the emotions or the sensations that occurred during that moment and engage fully in the feelings of happiness, joy or appreciation that you felt during that time. This type of exercise can be especially useful to practice for enhancing feelings of closeness to our partners or family members.
These are some simple ideas to get your started practicing gratitude. For such a powerful skill, it really can be as simple as that to start getting some of the benefits…..but remember it is a skill, so it needs daily practice!
Disclaimer: Content on this website is provided for education and information purposes only and is not intended to replace advise from your doctor or registered health professional. Readers are urged to consult their registered practitioner for diagnosis and treatment for their medical concerns.
Blog written by CBT Professionals Clinical Psychologist on the Gold Coast, Natalie Boulter. CBT Professionals are a team of clinical psychologists on the Gold Coast with offices in Coomera and Nerang. Gold Coast CBT psychologists offer services to adults, children, and couples. Please call and make an appointment on 56 683 490.