I dare you: Using gratitude to support your mental health
Thanksgiving is over and for many that means getting back to our regular workday routines. In the course of returning to our everyday lives and getting ready for the upcoming holidays, our thoughts of gratitude tend to drift away. An increasing amount of research is showing that gratitude has a significant effect on our overall health and well-being. Something so seemingly insignificant as counting our blessings during the day can actually make us feel like our lives are actually better off.
For many of us, we get caught up in the habitual mind trap of negative self-talk. Something happens like a person walking by us without smiling. If we are in a low or anxious mood at the time, our mind begins to interpret that event from that lens. "Why didn't David say hi to me...he must be mad at me, but for what, what did I do?" Then the mind continues with its spiral "what is wrong with me, how come I can't ever keep good friendships". Memories then start chiming about all the times when people got angry with you. Before you know it, you're beginning to feel pretty depressed and hopeless. Many of you know how fast this could happen and for others, you can identify how your mind can get ahead of you sometimes causing you to feel stress or anxious.
According to research by Robert Emmons, taking time out of each day to count your blessings or listing 5 things you are grateful for, can have a significant impact on your satisfaction with life. Believe it or not, most of us spend our days incessantly counting the burdens we have. It's happening in our minds without our awareness of it. So what if we took some conscious effort to actually write down or just think about 5 things we are grateful for at the end of the day.
If you have resistance to this, just see if you can notice that resistance, not judge it as good or bad, and then just redirect your attention to really considering 5 things you are grateful for in your life or in this world.
Try doing this between now and the holidays and write below any thoughts or ideas you have. In fact, feel free to write below anything you are grateful for in this moment. This isn't about putting on rose colored glasses and not paying attention to burdens, this is simply consciously putting attention on things we are thankful for in our own lives. We can all affect one another, so please feel free to share below.