During extraordinary times like these, it can be difficult to cultivate gratitude. Our brains are not designed to lean towards scanning for the positives. For biological and survival purposes, we are created to search for threats. Unfortunately, having an “attitude of gratitude” takes effort. Scanning for the positives is a learned skill, that requires daily effort. This skill, like any new skill, takes time to build. The more you practice, the easier it becomes. You are literally retraining, rewiring, and building new neural connections for a more grateful mindset. It takes work!
Regular gratitude practices can help you become more resilient. This skill is needed when faced with adversity. Let’s face it…we are all facing more obstacles these days! Some other benefits of incorporating gratitude into your daily life include:
Gratitude Letters – Love and admiration are wonderful, but even better when you share your thoughts with those who bring you joy. Pull those kind thoughts from your mind to your words…tell them! The famous musician, James Taylor wrote, “Shower the people you love with love, show them the way that you feel”. James has an attitude of gratitude!
Once a week, pick someone and write or type out a gratitude letter. It can be a few sentences or a full page. Whatever feels right. You can email, text, mail, or take a picture of the letter and send it to them electronically. The person can be from your past or currently involved in your life. You might be surprised to discover who you think about after a few weeks. Try not to overthink it and have fun!
Gratitude List – Gratitude lists are a wonderful way to keep track and visualize on paper what you are thankful for. I encourage you to write at least 5 things each day. Read over old entries and reflect on the past. Try not to be too repetitive, nothing is too small or simple. No rules, just write what comes to mind and pick one to elaborate on.
Growth Through Gratitude- This technique can help you feel grounded and grateful at the same time. Focus on a moment from your past that you are extremely grateful for. This past moment can be from a religious or spiritual moment, joyful memories with others, or any time that makes you feel calm, connected, or happy. Tune into that moment. How did it feel? What was the setting like? Describe all 5 senses from that event. Sit with that moment and let the feelings of gratitude wash over you.