Friday, 20 January 2012

Be grateful for the most depressing day of the year

You may have heard of ‘blue Monday’- seemingly the most depressing day of the year according to a former tutor at the Centre for Lifelong Learning, a Further Education centre attached to Cardiff University. There is even a formula to work out the precise date of when this day falls which takes into account the weather, our level of debt (the difference between debt accumulated and our ability to pay), the time since Christmas and time since failing our new year’s resolutions, our low levels of motivation and that feeling of a need to take action. It usually lands on a Monday in the last full week of January which is not surprising considering how cold and dark it is or how little money we have left after Christmas.

Instead of focusing on this low mood however, an alternative approach taken from positive psychology is to focus on gratitude. This concept has long been embraced by religions and philosophies who view gratitude as a manifestation of virtue, and an important part of health and well-being.

More recently psychology has realised the potential of gratitude. Indeed, Michael McCullough a psychology professor at the University of Miami believes when you stop and count your blessings, you hijack your emotional system. In other words, you direct your attention to good things.

Practising gratitude on a regular basis can change the way our brain neurons fire into more positive automatic patterns. These positive emotions can ease distress and broaden our thinking. Gratitude can help us feel connected and remind us that we are part of something bigger.

Here are some quotes about gratitude to help you to think about gratitude in your own life:

"Let us be grateful to people who make us happy, they are the charming gardeners who make our souls blossom"  Marcel Proust.

"We can only be said to be alive in those moments when our hearts are conscious of our treasures" Thornton Wilder

"As we express of gratitude we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words but to live by them"  John F Kennedy

"At times our own light goes out and is rekindled by a spark from another person. Each of us has a cause to think with deep gratitude of those who have lighted the flame within us" Albert Schweitzer

"He is a wise man who does not grieve for the things which he has not, but rejoices for those which he has" Epictetus

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