Intentionally cultivating an attitude of gratitude can be a powerful way of helping you create a sense of well-being, confidence and optimism.
“Attention is the beginning of devotion” … Mary Oliver
We can cultivate gratitude to making sure that we notice, savor and remind ourselves of the many wonderful opportunities, support and beauty there can be in our lives.
Video with guided gratitude practice
Psychology has been a way to help people overcome problems like depression. Positive Psychology is a new approach that helps people avoid problems by encouraging practices that cultivate resilience and optimism. Gratitude is one of the most powerful ways of helping us avoid some painful emotional states such as depression.
Why do we need gratitude practices
We are Teflon for good experiences and Velcro for bad experiences.
We are more likely to spend time thinking about negative things.
We quickly forget the good things.
We needed this negative bias as a species for survival because we needed to be able to be aware of and respond quickly to life threatening situations.
Cultivating and Embodying Gratitude – 6 approaches
1. Micro practices throughout the day.
Smile and keep repeating “Thank you”, “Thank you” to yourself.
Think about things that you are grateful for. Family, friends and mentors, physical health, educational opportunities, beauty of nature, etc.
Triggers for the micro practice could be: Any time you become aware of negative thoughts
When we have positive experiences, it is an excellent time to cultivate gratitude. The experience is enriched when we savor it and reinforce it: Notice how you feel, capture the felt sense of gratitude and see if you can repeat it.
2. Incorporate the micro practice into a daily meditation practice
3. Each evening before you go to sleep
Think of all the things during that day you should be grateful for. That encourages you to remember and relive the good things that have happened to you and others.
Each day write down the things that you are grateful for.
5. Thank you letters
Write letters to people who have helped you and let them know.
6. Express your gratitude throughout the day to people who have helped you.
Mental Discipline – Not Wishful Thinking
Meditation cultivates mental discipline. Mental discipline is the capability to be aware of what we are thinking and provide us the agency to focus our energies on thoughts and actions that are nurturing and supporting.
• Find a trigger such as an alarm or getting into your car or walking through a door.
• When you trigger goes off notice your thoughts.
• Are they about the past, future or present?
• Are they constructive?
• Are they thoughts that you have had before?
• Are you focusing on the positive in your life?
Study: Does gratitude writing improve the mental health of psychotherapy clients? Evidence from a randomized controlled trial. By by Yik-man Wong, Jesse J. Owen and Lynn Gilman
This randomized study showed that just by writing letters of gratitude people reported a better sense of mental health.
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