This month we look at the practice of gratitude. By which I mean regularly finding things to say thank you for. Our brains will find evidence to support whatever we ask for; if we decide we are having a bad day our brain searches for evidence to reinforce that fact. However, if we wake up and find three things to be grateful for we are already nudging our brain to find other things to be grateful for.
This has such a dramatic effect on people that forward thinking doctors prescribe it as a first intervention for people with mild depression. By regularly find things we like or love to focus our brain on, we are effectively sending it messages to go and find more things that we can be grateful for. I make it a habit that, just before I go to bed, I reflect on three things that I am thankful for that day. When life is feeling a bit tough, I reinforce the practice by writing at least three things in a pretty notebook that I keep by the bed.
One of my good friends, who really is a queen of gratitude, says that she does it every morning, which means she starts everyday with a great mindset.
This is not about pretending that things that don’t feel so great are good; it is about finding anything, even if it is very small and simple, to be thankful for. It might be for clean sheets, or a lovely cup of tea. We don’t have to look for momentous things, small things generate equally good feelings.
This idea is so simple, it is as easy to underestimate its effects and forget to do it. We therefore need to take the time to create a habit and it is why there is space for it every day in your journal. If you make this part of your life, something you do regularly, you will reap amazing rewards long term. There is always something to be grateful for even in the toughest of times. Training your brain when life is in flow will make it easier when life gets tough.
Keep a pebble in your pocket. Every time you put your hand in your pocket or notice it, find something to be grateful for. Open up your mind to the things you love and it will find more things that you will love!
As a facilitator you may want to encourage people to find something now to use as their gratitude anchor.
A version of gratitude I have used a few times in my life:
If someone I care a lot about is irritating me for some reason, I just take some time to write all the things I love about them and all the things I am grateful for about them. When I do this, my own mindset shifts and I find myself noticing all those good things rather than the things I had been focusing on that irritated me.