LoveAndLifeToolBox

People Speak on their Revelations about Gratitude

Thanksgiving is a time to take a moment to pause and reflect on gratitude and what it means for you.  As much research has now demonstrated, gratitude holds the power to not only improve happiness levels but strengthen social ties, boost self esteem and reduce stress.   It can help you achieve a peace of mind that allows for better rest and overall health benefits.  It also is supports heart health.  When you put your attention on what you have that is good, it can help steer you away from dwelling on what is not.

As we celebrate Thanksgiving and glide into the holiday season, look for opportunities to be grateful and show gratitude to others.  Consider how you might carry this mindset forward as part of a new outlook on life.  It can take some practice to shift thinking patterns, especially if you’ve had challenging experiences behind you in your life that have wired your brain towards a stronger negativity bias.  But thankfully neuroscience has taught us that your brain can be rewired.  A more positive outlook allows for more easily noticing things that are good and remembering to articulate gratitude to others.

Here are some people’s reflections on gratitude:

“Validate my feelings and failings and life’s frustrations without letting them control the day. You can make a list of all the frustrating things that happened that day or a list of the wonderful things, both lists are true. It’s a matter of choosing your focus.”

“There are lots of moments I wish I could get back. But since my mom died I do think I am better at helping others, even when I get in a big hurry and am pissed off at people for being slow and wasting my time, like standing at Starbucks in line. You just need to put yourself in that person’s shoes and you will find a nicer, calmer self in no time.”

“I am often over-scheduled and blame myself and others for not having enough time…but you are absolutely right. I remind myself as much as possible…humanity wins out. Take a deep breath and be present. EVERYBODY has someplace to go…”

“I try to physically break the reverie of negative thoughts by stretching or massaging my temples… anything that reminds me that this is not just a moment in time, but that I am a being with finite physical, mental, and emotional resources and I need to recharge my batteries. It’s not about the stimulus; it’s about how you react to the stimulus. And I also try to remember that it’s human to have the anger and frustration with life…”

“Gratitude. We don’t spend enough time reflecting on it. Even with all the losses, surgeries, rough moments my family have gone through over the past 2 years especially, it’s reminders like yours that we are so very, very fortunate. How amazing is this life!! And if we reflect more on what makes us grateful, we might just take the time to smile a bit about it all.

 

There are many ways to start to incorporate a gratitude mindset into your life.  At the end of the day before you go to sleep, ponder a few things that happened that day that were positive and you appreciate.  Journaling can help.  But writing a letter might be more even more effective, according to a piece in the Greater Good Science , Six New Studies That Can Help You Rediscover Gratitude.  And maybe surprising, when it comes expressions of gratitude, the impact is apparently the same whether it’s text, video or in real life.

Another helpful thing to try is a daily practice of noticing things you normally don’t; the beauty of the flowers in a neighbor’s garden, the friendly store clerk, an interaction you had with a friend that was meaningful.

Some are challenged with a very strong negativity bias, with good reason possibly stemming from core beliefs developed in their family of origin or history since then.  If you struggle to find  your way towards gratitude, seek counseling to unpack and work through any possible deeper reasons for this.

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Lisa Brookes Kift, MFT

Lisa Brookes Kift, MFT is the creator of LoveAndLifeToolbox.com with emotional and relationship health articles, guides, courses and other tools for individuals and couples. She is a frequent consultant for the media having appeared in CNN.com, HuffingtonPost.com, MensHealth.com and others. Lisa has a private practice in Marin County, CA and offers Emotional Health and Relationship Consultations via email, phone or video conference.