We find ourselves in, what can be, quite a scary world right now; the pandemic, unemployment, social injustice and the barrage of clips, news and opinions that seem to chase us through our daily lives. This constant stream of information can have a huge impact on how we feel about ourselves and how we move through this ‘new’ world.
Every day we are shown what to worry about and what others have that we don’t and it can be easy to think we aren’t doing well enough, or should be doing more or should have more and it can all add up to feeling not so good about our own lives. I’m here to tell you that there is something that we can do that may help relieve some of these feelings, foster a more positive attitude and hopefully work wonders on our overall wellbeing.
What I’m talking about in a nutshell, is taking notice…. thinking about “the little things” and the impact of spending a bit more time to appreciate what we do have and what we can be thankful for. This is known within as the practice of gratitude.
The dictionary definition of gratitude is as follows:
Gratitude – the quality of being thankful; readiness to show appreciation for and to return kindness.
This fits quite nicely but in more general terms, it is the act of taking notice of the positive things in your life and being thankful for them whether it’s people, places, moments or anything at all. You could be thankful for the bus being on time, the fact that your birthday card was your favourite colour or the fact that you woke up half an hour before your alarm and don’t have to get up just yet. Many of these things can happen daily without us ever realising or taking any time to appreciate them.
Research over the last two decades, in the field of positive psychology, has explored the impact of Gratitude on both physical health and psychological health. These studies have shown that people that are more grateful can experience less aches and pains, have a greater likelihood of adhering to medical advice, a more positive outlook, greater overall wellbeing, improved sleep, better relationships and increased empathy for others.
Some people may already be of a more positive disposition and find it quite natural to practice gratitude on a daily basis but some of us may struggle but that’s okay. There are a few different types of gratitude interventions that have been shown to have some benefit. These mostly revolve around Gratitude Journaling but can also be part of a daily mindful practice. The main idea is to take some time each day and think about what you are grateful for.
To help get you started here are a few exercises you can try:
- Write down 3 good things that happened to you today. These can be as small or as large as you like.
- Think about what you would be sad about if it wasn’t in your life anymore.
- Think about something you appreciate but don’t normally notice or think about.
- Just list some things that you are grateful for.
These are just a few ideas to help anyone get started but you may find, in your own practice and reflection that other ways work better for you.
If this is something you think you’d like to try, please remember that this is something just for you. No one is monitoring your progress; there is no pressure to practice every day or any kind of time frame for completion. It is just a simple daily exercise that might help you to feel better and notice more of what you do have rather than focusing on what you don’t. If you start and then miss a day it’s far from the end of the world, just try and get back to it when you can.
Today I am grateful for being able to share this information with you all and my comfy shoes!
If you’d like to read a little more about the studies that showed the benefits please follow the link below.