Thursday, 20 September 2018

Practising thankfulness - why it can help you achieve a more positive life

It’s all too easy to get bogged down in the hustle and bustle of daily life and lose sight of what’s important in our quest to get through each day. With World Gratitude Day just around the corner on 21st September, we take a look at how we can practise thankfulness and the benefits of doing do.

Every little helps

Being thankful is not just about celebrating the big successes. Gratitude is about recognising and appreciating even the smallest of things in life – like nature and changes in the weather. Throughout the day, take the time to acknowledge the little milestones and victories that you experience.

Find gratitude in your challenges

Thankfulness can also be found in the challenges we have faced; they have after all shaped who we are today. Even in the darkest of situations there is usually something we can be grateful for. Spending some time to review negative or difficult situations from the past can help us identify the elements of our lives that we are truly thankful for.

Be mindful

Spend just five minutes of each day living in the present. Find a quiet spot and think about the things in your day that you are grateful for. Consider each in turn and examine what it is about them that make you happy and why you are thankful to have them in your life. Getting into the habit of doing this every day, helps to 'rewire' the mind to focus on the small elements of life that make us fulfilled and whole, rather than constantly focusing on the big picture.

Give some of yourself to others

Many people find true gratitude in their own lives when they give their time freely to others. Volunteering in the local community can help keep us centred and make us more thankful for what we have ourselves. Helping others really does help us just as much.

Start a journal

Some people find it beneficial to start a gratitude journal, a place to jot down positive thoughts and images of the small things we hold dear in our lives. By writing things down or depicting them through imagery, we make them real and give them a value. Keeping a journal of all that we are thankful for helps us to focus our attention on the things that are important to us.

Practising gratitude is a way of reprogramming the brain to notice happiness in the everyday, rather than the constant quest for bigger and better. Studies show that it can take as little as eight weeks to change our habits to effect positive impact on our mindset. The brain is a wonderful tool and  deliberately changing its thought patterns can help us go through life with greater empathy and a deeper happiness.

Start now - think of one thing that you are grateful for and think about why this is. Does it make your life easier, make you feel a particular way, give you hope for the future, help you feel more in control? There are lots of reason why you may be grateful for something/someone in your life.

For five more ways to practice gratitude in your everyday life, have a look at this blog post from Psychology Today and this article from the Huffington Post.

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