Several studies confirm that practicing gratefulness, such as by recording feelings of gratitude in a journal, provides health benefits. Feeling grateful effectively increases happiness and reduces depression.
Practicing gratefulness and appreciation can:
- Help you handle difficult times.
- Help ensure you sleep better and therefore feel more refreshed.
- Make you feel more useful and have greater likelihood of making progress once you have set personal goals.
- Get you to focus on the positive and reduce negative feelings.
Martin Seligmann, known as the founder of positive psychology, has conducted extensive studies of depression, happiness and quality of life. One project, where he studied the relationship between gratitude and depression, provided some surprising results.
Subjects were asked over a certain period to take note of the positive things that happened to them during the day. They were asked to record this in a gratitude diary.
- These could include big things, such as the love they felt towards family members, or things they had mastered.
- They could also include small things, such as the observation that it was a sunny day, or that they had watched a movie they liked.
As part of the experiment, Seligman also asked subjects to record how deep their depression was. Result: those who reported the deepest depression also reported the greatest effect!
Why practice gratitude?
Practicing gratitude can help you change the way you think; about yourself, about your life and how you behave. It’s a simple technique that, among other things, helps you build mental resilience and deal with though times.
It’s easy to forget all the good things that happen during a day or week. Things that do not go as planned, or small annoyances often get too much attention.
Don’t let stress, bad conscience or negative thoughts take over your everyday life. Shifting your focus to positive experiences can helps you turn off negative thoughts and feelings.
We all have something to be grateful for. This is something you can practice to become mentally stronger.
This is how you can learn to be more grateful
An easy way to get started is to shift your focus to all the good things you have in life. It’s also a great way to remind yourself of what matters to you.
What is important to you? What makes you happy? And what do you really choose to spend your time on?
1. Start small
Begin by recording positive events and experiences that happen during the course of your daily life. Take note of what makes you happy, when you master something and what you like. It can be something as simple as enjoying a good cup of coffee, going for a walk, meeting friends, enjoying a quiet moment or a nice sunset.
2. Keep a record
You will reinforce the good feeling by starting to log the event. It makes you think through what you have experienced and what it did to you.
In addition, you can go back and look at this later when you have a challenging time, just to remind yourself of all the good you have had or experienced.
3. Do this regularly
It sounds simple, but it requires you to decide to set aside a few minutes regularly to do it. Try this at least three times a week for three weeks. See what it does to you.
This is perhaps where the greatest challenge lies – remembering to do it.
In Mindfit we have taken this into account
We all go through periods where we feel that life is going against us – maybe we feel stressed or are worried about something we can’t manage. In such periods, it ‘s easy to get stuck in bad feelings and negative thoughts about yourself and your life.
An important part of Mindfit is keeping track of positive experiences and events. This will help you shift your focus from the negative to the positive, and you will see that life consists of both mastery and good moments.