The benefits of gratitude for our wellbeing are being talked about more and more. It’s recommended to practise daily as part of your everyday routine. And is frequently mentioned in information about self-care. When I first heard about gratitude I admit, I was sceptical. But as someone who cares about their mental health I was willing to give it a go and see how I found it. As we know, what works for some people doesn’t work for us. And self-care stops being self-care if you’re practise doesn’t meet your needs. So, I decided to try out gratitude and added into my daily practise via a deep breathing app that I was already using. And here’s what I found.
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My Gratitude Experience
The app I was using provide a daily gratitude log. As I was already using the app this seemed like a good place to start. I find it difficult to add new things into my routine. And often forget to do them. So, using an app I already opened on a daily basis made it more likely to commit to the practise. The app provided space to type in at least three things that you were grateful for every day. Recommendations suggest that you should try and list three different things daily. At the start I found this quite hard. I frequently listed family, friends, my health etc. After all, I am grateful for these things.
Taking time out of my day, albeit only a few minutes, to think about what I was grateful for was useful. It helped me realise how grateful I am to have family, friends, health, a roof over my head, being employed etc. It helped me realise I often take these things for granted. And even when they’re not perfect. I am still incredibly lucky and privileged to have them. This was a good start to my gratitude practise. The realisation of what I am lucky to have was definitely good for my mental health.
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Levelling Up My Practise
As time went on I knew that I needed to challenge myself a bit more. So, I looked into gratitude practises and discovered that not only should we try and list different things to be grateful for on a daily basis. But that it is helpful to think less about your overall life. And more about your day to day. Using this knowledge I started asking myself the question. What happened today that was good? Adding this question into my gratitude question had two benefits.
Firstly, I was able to list different things each day. And because of this I started becoming more aware of the good things that happened. I became far more appreciative of the small things in life. Noticing the person smiling in the street which would make me happy that someone was having a good day. I was more aware of compliments I received and how they made me feel. Or things that I accomplished, particularly if I’d been stressed about them, when I normally would have brushed them aside.
For A Guide To Gaining a Positive Perspective read here.
Gratitude Changed My Perspective
Whilst I was still grateful for the big things in my life which I listed above. I started listing more specific interactions or moments. Rather than being grateful for friends. I felt gratitude for the friend that cheered me up. Or the one who was recovering from being unwell. I was grateful for the family member that helped me out. And the fact that I could pay it forward. Realising the true meaning of family. These moments joined the mix of big and small things that I am lucky to have.
I realised by practising gratitude it changed my perspective and experience of everyday life. Not only was I more appreciative of the big and small things in life. But it helped me realise we are very quick to judge a day. To name it bad or good. One negative thing happens and we write the day off as a bad day. Making it almost impossible to have a good day. Our brains have a negativity bias. It’s inbuilt to help us detect threat. But it also makes us more likely to expect the worst; and remember it.
To counteract this bias it’s important to see the positives in everyday. And gratitude helped me do this. It let me see the good things all around me that often went unnoticed. It stopped me taking things for granted. Overall, it made me feel lighter. I challenged myself to see the good in everyday. And be more accurate in how I described such days. It may have been a frustrating morning or a boring afternoon. But that didn’t mean it had to be a bad day. I started saving that language for the really bad ones. Which, in turn, helped me realise that there is a lot more balance in my life. I don’t have weeks of bad days. And that even on my worst days, there is usually a silver lining. It’s just that much harder to see.
What are your thoughts on gratitude? Have you practised it? What were your experiences? Let us know below!