Thanksgiving is around the corner, and everyone is talking about gratitude. In some ways, gratitude becomes a bit of a buzzword during this time of year. But, all commercialism aside, there are scientifically proven benefits of gratitude. Cultivating an 'Attitude of Gratitude’ can boost your mood, improve relationships, help you sleep better, and bring you more joy in life.
But pure gratitude is so much more than just saying ‘thanks’. It’s about genuine appreciation for the goodness around you. So, where do you start? How do you tap into the benefits of gratitude and create a more fulfilling life?
A great way to begin your gratitude journey is by making gratitude a daily practice instead of a seasonal tradition. Here are a few tips from our Pacific Mind Health Team that can help you reap the vast benefits of living a grateful life year round.
Start A Gratitude Journal
This is an actual step you can take today and you don’t need to spend $50 on a fancy gratitude journal; a pen and paper will do just fine! Consider making a little space for a new journal on your work desk or nightstand or making room in the weekly spread of a journal you already use. You could even accomplish this practice on sticky notes if
you wanted to! What matters most isn’t when, where, or even how much you write, but how you go about it.
Writing one to three times per week in your gratitude journal is ideal. Although there is nothing wrong with a daily journaling practice, maintaining some level of spontaneity can help grow your capacity to acknowledge things that happened in the day that you didn’t expect. In other words, you can experience stronger feelings of gratitude when you savor some of life’s surprises - big or small.
That said, the most critical element of gratitude journaling is specificity. So if your goal is to write down one thing you are grateful for, don’t just write down your best friend. Instead, write how much you appreciate their “just checking in” text today because they hadn’t heard from you in a while. Get personal and detailed if you want to truly recognize the impact of someone or something positive in your life.
Acknowledge The Negative, Too
If there were never a cloud in the sky, we would all take the sun for granted at some point. But thanks to the rain, each time we experience the sunshine that follows, we have even more of a reason to smile.
If we want to appreciate something positive in our lives now, it helps to acknowledge the negative that came before it. You might have something or someone in your life right now that you know you should feel grateful for — the only problem is you’re having trouble feeling it.
For instance, maybe you left a job that wasn’t meant for you, and you want to feel more excited to wake up for the job you have now. Your new job might not be perfect, but what do you appreciate about it compared to the one you had? Are you glad you’ve gone from a toxic environment to a friendly one? Are you thankful for the more flexible hours or pay?
When you cultivate gratitude, think about your life or situation regarding how far you’ve come or what’s better today.
There are several ways to practice mindfulness, yet one underlying reason why it works so well. If you want to cultivate an attitude of gratitude, cultivate more awareness.
To do this, you can practice mindfulness meditation, bringing your attention to the present as you sit, allowing your feelings and thoughts to come without judgment or trying to change them. The goal of mindfulness is that the more present you become in life, the easier it will become to spot the goodness around you and appreciate it.
With mindfulness practice, you can go from cooking dinner on autopilot per usual into being attentive to the way you chop your vegetables, to feeling grateful for their vibrant colors and textures — how blessed you are to get to fuel your body so well.
Reach Out For Support This Holiday Season
If there’s one thing that a regular gratitude practice can show us, it’s that the little things in our lives aren’t so little after all. So as you embark on this gratitude practice, whatever you do, be patient. The benefits can take time to notice.
We also know that depression, anxiety, Bipolar Disorder, and other common mental health disorders can make finding gratitude difficult. Unfortunately, grief doesn’t take a break just because the holidays are here. In fact, the holidays can make grief and depression an even heavier burden to carry. If you or someone you love is suffering, reach out for support. There is hope beyond medication with TMS Therapy!