When times are tough, it can be difficult to see what is in the other side and hard to be thankful for what we have because we have become so focused on what we don’t have. Gratitude can be a practice that helps to show appreciation and be thankful for what we do have. When reflecting on gratitude, it isn’t about invalidating the struggles that you are doing through but rather finding the balance of recognizing what we do have while getting through those struggles.
A study in 2003 by Emmons and McCullough, there were several benefits to focusing on gratitude especially in keeping a gratitude journal. This can be a notebook that you write down what you are grateful for. The study showed that people who kept a gratitude journal were more active, showed fewer physical health concerns, felt better about their lives as a whole, and were more optimistic in times of distress. Individuals who were regularly keeping notes of their gratitude were more likely to work and make progress toward their goals.
Other benefits to Gratitude (Morin, 2014) includes:
Higher changes of making and maintaining relationships
Increased mental strength and resiliency
Now we know that gratitude can help us in so many different areas of our lives, but how can we practice gratitude? Here are three exercises that can allow you to express and feel more gratitude in your life.
Write down things that you are grateful for. This doesn’t have to be anything huge or even need to be several things. It can start by being 1-3 things each day which may range from being able to have safe drinking water/having food to having a great support network. Most people can find at least 1-3 things that they are grateful for in their lives. Take time to reflect on those things each day. Also, if everyday seems like too much for you can you do it every few days or once a week?
2. Gratitude Meditation
Meditation can be helpful in grounding ourselves. Questions and things you may focus on in a gratitude meditation is… What have you received from others? What do you have in life? What things are constant for you?
3. Use your senses
Take time to be grateful for your senses.. think about what you feel, see, smell, taste, hear. Gratitude can be even for a moment of just being alive. Paying attention to our senses and what is happening around us can remind us of all the things that we do have and can be grateful for.
As we mentioned above, gratitude isn’t about invalidating the struggles. Rather, it is about learning how to get through those times while still holding onto and not forgetting what we have to be grateful for at the same time. We don’t want to get into toxic positivity where there is denial, minimization, or invalidation of your experiences. Often, people can struggle with gratitude because they feel that by being grateful for what you have you have to invalidate your experiences… the good news is that is not true. You can find a balance of the two, but it is not easy. One way to keep working and trying to find a healthy balance is through utilizing therapy and reaching out for support especially in those dark times when it is hard to see to the other side.
If you are searching for a therapist or counselor you can learn more about tips to starting therapy here or use a directory service where you can narrow your search based on types of therapy, insurance, location, etc.. Counselor directories to get started can include psychology today, therapyden, or mental health match. If you are interested in connecting directly with Mindful Solutions you can reach out via email (email@example.com), phone (619-353-5139), or book your free 30-minute consultation on our website!
*Although I am a therapist by profession, I am not YOUR therapist. This article is for informational and educational purposes only, does not replace therapy and does not establish any kind of therapist-client relationship with me. I am not liable or responsible for any damages resulting from or related to your use of this information. To see more information about our disclamer(s): https://www.mindfulsolutionscorp.com/disclaimers
Emmons, R. A., & McCullough, M. E. (2003). Counting blessings versus burdens: An experimental investigation of gratitude and subjective well-being in daily life. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 84(2), 377–389.
Scientifically Proven Benefits of Gratitude that will motivation you to give thanks year round. (2014, November 23). Forbes. https://www.forbes.com/sites/amymorin/2014/11/23/7-scientifically-proven-benefits-of-gratitude-that-will-motivate-you-to-give-thanks-year-round/#6b37c90b183c