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Elisa Goldstein, Ph.D.Elisha Goldstein, Ph.D.
A blog about mindfulness, stress-reduction, psychotherapy and mental health.

We Don't Need to Wait for Thanksgiving

Elisha Goldstein, Ph.D. Updated: Nov 5th 2012

thank youHalloween is over and Thanksgiving is imminent. However, we don’t have to wait for this single day of the year to begin bringing in a skill that we now know is great for our mental health. I’ve mentioned before that something so seemingly insignificant as counting our blessings during the day can actually make us feel like our lives are actually better off.

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 remember the research. Also note that counting your blessings actually shifts activity to a part of your brain that’s been associated with feeling well, your left prefrontal cortex. If you still notice resistance, which is likely, work with it as a practice. 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.

You don’t need to get stuck in the habitual mind trap of negative self-talk. As these stories flitter around, the mind continues by spiraling into "what is wrong with me, how come I can't ever (fill in the blank)". Memories then start chiming about things that just back up that negativity. It’s a vicious cycle. 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.

Try having a daily practice of counting your blessings between now and Thanksgiving 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 share your thoughts, stories and questions below. Your interaction creates a living wisdom for us all to benefit from.

 

Elisha Goldstein, Ph.D.

Elisha Goldstein, Ph.D. is a clinical psychologist in private practice in West Los Angeles and is author of the upcoming book The Now Effect, co-author of A Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction Workbook, Foreword by Jon Kabat-Zinn, author of the Mindful Solutions audio series, and the Mindfulness at Work™ program currently being adopted in multiple multinational corporations.

Check out Dr. Goldstein's acclaimed CD's on Mindful Solutions for Stress, Anxiety, and Depression, Mindful Solutions for Addiction and RelapsePrevention, and Mindful Solutions for Success and Stress Reduction at Work. -- "They are so relevant, I have marked them as one of my favorites on a handout I give to all new clients" ~ Psychiatrist.

If you're wanting to integrate more mindfulness into your daily life, sign up for his Mindful Living Twitter Feed. Dr. Goldstein is also available for private psychotherapy.

    Reader Comments
    Discuss this issue below or in our forums.

    Thanksgiving - Eileen - Nov 12th 2012

    I was looking for articles for my grief group for Thanksgiving and came across yours. I love it! I'm going to share it with the group.

    Giving it a shot - - Nov 5th 2012

    Hey....what have I got to loose? I am setting a reoccuring "meeting" with myself for mid day on my outlook calendar and gonna see how it goes!

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