The Gifts of Gratitude: Give Thanks. Get Happy.
What are you grateful for today?
Being increasingly connected these days, the bar of how much we expect (and are expected) to get done is an ever moving target. With so much to be working on all of the time, many of us get caught up focusing on what we didn’t get done or what we still have to do later. While it is important to be aware of what needs to be done, and often helpful to have a plan, it is also important for us to stop and reflect on what went well, what we were able to accomplish and how far we have come.
The practice of Gratitude is one that has been around for many years, likely because of the peace, contentment, confidence and hope that it brings. Stop right now and consider what 3 things are you most grateful for right now? Today? This week? This year? Hopefully the things that you thought about brought a smile to your face. This is something that many of us don’t take the time to do, or maybe feel that we don’t have time to do, but it is a simple strategy that helps us to build our resources for confidence and resilience by acknowledging successes, simple pleasures, good fortune and the kind deeds of others.
An easy way to begin your practice is to take a few minutes each day and identify 3 things that went well for the day; if you cannot find 3 then start with 1 or 2 but I would venture to say that there are at least 3 things that you can be grateful for each day. To increase the power of the activity, you can record them in a Gratitude Journal or a Diary; this is my personal preference as some days it seems that nothing goes well and nothing ever works out so on those days you can actually physically look back at the good things that you have experienced in the days before. And who wouldn’t love a book of Happy Things?
Daily Gratitude practice works in a couple of different ways. First of all, it actively calls our attention to positive experiences each day. Some days these are going to be very simple or seemingly benign experiences but in this way it helps us to appreciate even the small things that go well each day. Second of all it provides evidence that sometimes things do go our way or we are able to achieve things. Acknowledging (and reviewing) the positives will help us to counter the negative thoughts that come to mind when we face adversity or are under pressure as it is often hard to recall positive things when we are stressed or overwhelmed.
While great in the moment, frequent Gratitude practice is also beneficial in the longer term for building self-esteem, our value of ourselves, and self-efficacy, our belief that we are able to get things done. In developing these resources, it will help us to stay balanced and focused on our goals and in time will help to build our resilience, our ability to overcome obstacles and adversity, and hope that even when we go through difficult times, we will be okay and things will get better because we are well aware of our strengths and accomplishments.
Gratitude practice is great for adults but children can also benefit from learning to appreciate the small (and big) things that happen each day; sometimes they are even able to find them more easily than us adults, so they can be a great help with this activity! 🙂
Ready. Set. Breathe. And Give Thanks. You got this!