Focus on what you have with these top tips on how to be more thankful – trust us, you’ll thank us for it! Madeleine Neale writes.
1. Use a gratitude diary to reflect on the wonderful things in your life: relationships, financial freedoms, professional opportunities, personal strengths, physical health and wellbeing. “Re-evaluate and reflect on your entries,” says educational and development psychologist Stephanie Lau. “I like to do this with the change of each new season to track my personal and professional development.”
2. Make sure to notice the little things in life. Example: ‘I’m grateful for the softness of my sheets’, ‘I loved that I found a parking spot straight away’, ‘I’m thankful for this perfectly ripe avocado ready for my breakfast’.
3. Don’t avoid the negative. This may seem counteractive but remembering the bad things that have happened can help us feel more positive about where we are now. If you can look back and think of the worst times in your life, then remember that you made it through and survived, you will be able to push forward and feel more thankful for what’s happening in the present. “Sometimes, circumstances may be difficult and it cannot always be possible to look on the sunny side and express gratitude for things that aren’t going well,” says Lau. “Developing an objective outlook and recognising where change is required is part of a balanced approach to social and emotional problem solving, and is helpful and healthy.”
4. Share gratitude by telling someone how they have made a positive contribution to your life and what you are grateful for. This could be done in person, via email or why not try the old-fashioned way and write down your feelings in a thank you card.
5. Daily micro-reflections: reflect on one good thing that has happened each day to use gratitude to increase feelings of positivity and happiness.
Founder and CEO of Workplace Mental Health Institute, Pedro Diaz believes the best way to feel more grateful is to practise daily and use the positive feelings as motivation. “The more you practise gratitude, the more the parts of your brain that scan for good things in life get activated, while those parts of your brain that look for negative things shrink. In a literal sense, a brain trained in gratitude loses some of its ability for negativity and permanently gains the benefits that come from a more optimistic outlook,” he says.
For Lau, simple acts can enhance our general wellbeing and assist in stress management. “For example, by embracing a positive outlook and reflecting on the things we can be grateful for, we are less likely to adopt negative thinking patterns which bias the way we interpret our environment, relationships and daily stressors. By controlling our thoughts and developing positive, helpful thinking patterns, we can improve our overall feelings of happiness.”