The New Year is here bringing with it the usual pressures to make changes to yourself and your life. I hope you find this article refreshing as I’m exploring the importance of noticing all the good things we already have going on without changing a thing!
Gratitude is all about getting out of your head and noticing the things around you which you are thankful for, acknowledging them, showing appreciation and savouring them. Living a more grateful life isn’t about burying your head in the sand and being naive to the reality of life; it’s about giving equal attention to the things you are genuinely grateful for.
We can be grateful for the big things in life such as getting a new job, passing an exam, the birth of a baby. However, these big things don’t happen every day, so it’s important to be grateful for the little things too such as your morning coffee, someone holding the door open for you or the sun shining.
Unfortunately, our brains are hard wired to focus on the negatives we encounter and through daily stressors, things we see on social media and news reports it’s easy to get bogged down and forget to notice all the good things around us. This is particularly difficult if we are struggling with depression and anxiety. Ironically though, practising being grateful will aide your journey to overcoming depression and anxiety.
There’s been lots of scientific research which shows the benefits of practising gratitude such as; lowering blood pressure, strengthening the immune system, building resilience and helping us to feel less lonely and isolated. In one study participants were asked to keep a short journal. Some were told to list their daily hassles, whereas others were told to list things they were grateful for and the rest were told to simply list events from their day. The results showed that the people who listed the things they were grateful for felt more satisfied about their lives as a whole and were 25% happier than the people who listed their daily hassles.
Furthermore, when we practise gratitude it helps us to become more mindful because you have to be aware of the things around you in order to feel thankful for them. If you’d like to learn more about mindfulness and the benefits it can bring then please take a look at the April 2018 edition of Forrest Rambles.
Let’s try a little gratitude exercise right now. Simply think back on your day so far and spot 3 things which you are grateful for. For a few minutes really focus on the memory of each one and notice how this makes you feel.
Here are some more exercises you can try to bring a little more gratitude into your daily life:
- Write a list of 3 things you are grateful for each day – you can do this anytime you like but first thing in the morning or last thing at night is probably best, just try and make it a part of your daily routine.
- Keep your list in a nice notebook or a specially designed gratitude journal. Try to make your entries as specific and detailed as possible.
- Take the time to focus on the things you make a note of and look over previous entries.
- Take photos or draw pictures of the things you are grateful for.
- Make a point of saying thank you to people when they do something nice.
- Share what you are grateful for with other people, and have conversations with them about what they are grateful for.
- For more information go to www.gabrielletreanor.com and check out episode 3 of her Podcast ‘Pressing Pause’.