You’ve heard it before, “just focus on the positive”. While the intention is good, the phrase often comes off as dismissive, especially as many are having mixed – and very real – feelings about their current circumstances. “Be positive”, or “look on the bright side” may not help you find the state of mind that you wish for, and denying your feelings of grief, sadness, or negativity has its own consequences.
Cue gratitude, the practice of taking note of what is going right and feeling appreciation or thankfulness.
According to studies, gratitude is associated with higher levels of emotional wellbeing. People who are grateful feel less pain, less stress, suffer insomnia less, have stronger immune systems, experience healthier relationships, and do better academically and professional. Psychology Today (December 23, 2019)
Deborah Connors, a workplace coach explains: “When we express gratitude, our brains release dopamine and serotonin (the so-called “happiness hormones”), which change the way we take in information, opening our minds to new ideas and allowing us to become more resilient, engaged, optimistic, and creative. We even sleep better and have more of a sense of purpose”. Deborah Conners (November 9, 2021)
Sounds great, so how do you do it? It’s much simpler than you think, and of the many habits to improve wellbeing this one is very manageable in a busy schedule. It doesn’t need to take any longer than a few minutes (unless you want to take longer, in which case go for it!).
- Find your favorite pen, some paper, or a notebook you’ve been trying to figure out what to do with.
- Think about 3 things you are thankful for – big or small, significant, or seemingly insignificant – and write them down. Try to do it at the same time each day whether at the start with coffee/tea, during a mid-day break, or in bed before you go to sleep.
Travers, M. (2019, December 23). Five Insights on Gratitude. PsychologyToday.com. https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/social-instincts/201912/five-insights-gratitude
Connors, D. (2021, November 9). Grief and Gratitude: How Focusing on What is Going Right Can Help. Deborahconnors.com. https://deborahconnors.com/how-to-focus-on-what-is-going-right-through-gratitude/