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  • Writer's pictureAnnaliese Rix

Gratitude Despite...

Although we live in turbulent times, we still have control over our own choices, and attitude. No easy challenge to always be the master of emotions and fears that can impact our mental wellness severely...

i trust that this compilation of an article on gratitude may be of help....

The effects of gratitude, when practiced daily can be almost the same as medications. It produces a feeling of long-lasting happiness and contentment, the physiological basis of which lies at the neurotransmitter level.

When we express gratitude and receive the same, our brain releases dopamine and serotonin, the two crucial neurotransmitters responsible for our emotions, and they make us feel ‘good’. They enhance our mood immediately, making us feel happy from the inside.

By consciously practicing gratitude everyday, we can help these neural pathways to strengthen themselves and ultimately create a permanent grateful and positive nature within ourselves.

Cultivating happiness and joy with gratitude

1. Appreciate Yourself

2. Gratitude journal

A gratitude journal is your personal space to pen down all the little and big things in life that you are thankful for. Your gratitude journal can accommodate in your ‘dear diary’, your daily planner, or your online notepad. As you sit to express gratitude, you will consciously choose to focus on the good memories and might even recollect some long lost happy moments.

There is power in words, so don’t overlook the small things, no matter how unimportant they may seem.

3. Gratitude Visits (not possible during lockdown, but you can check in via media platforms).

We all have someone, whose unconditional support and help meant a lot to us. We feel as if we ‘owe’ our happiness and success to them. If you have such a person, he/she might be your friend, family, or a professional associate, meet them once or twice a month.

Initiate the plan, go and express your thankfulness one more time – let the person feel important. Exchange some good memories and offer your support. In most cases, gratitude visits bring a feeling of sanctity and positivity instantly.

4. Do not hesitate to be happy

If you feel happy, don’t shy away from it. Remind yourself that you have worked hard enough to achieve this and you truly deserve it. Be it a huge achievement or a small success, acknowledge your joy and be thankful for the moment. Accepting happiness makes us stronger and more grateful for what we have. We learn to praise our efforts and prepare ourselves better for facing difficulties in the future.

5. Find a gratitude buddy

Find a gratitude buddy for your daily practice – it can be your spouse, your kid, or your friend at work. Set aside some minutes everyday where you two (or more if you have more buddies) sit together and discuss the things you are thankful for. Ask questions to each other and open up informally. Sharing thoughts of gratefulness with someone is a great way to sustain motivation and strengthen your emotional skills.

“It is impossible to feel depressed and grateful at the same moment”

– Naomi Williams

1. Gratitude releases toxic emotions

2. Gratitude reduces pain

3. Gratitude improves sleep quality

4. Gratitude aids in stress regulation

5. Gratitude reduces anxiety and depression

By consciously practicing gratitude, we can train the brain to attend selectively to positive emotions and thoughts, thus reducing anxiety and feelings of apprehension.

Gratitude is about feeling the right way, about the right things, and at the right time. It is inseparably linked with self-discipline and motivation. It may not give us instant relief from pain and stress, but it brings the feeling of control back to us.

By acknowledging and appreciating our assets, gratitude gives us the charge of our own lives.

Gratitude And Grief

“Gratitude makes sense of your past, brings peace for today, and creates a vision for tomorrow” – Melody B.

Difficult as it may sound, but grieving with gratitude can bring in a ray of hope in the darkest times in life. Finding a reason to be thankful in days of despair may seem impossible. In her article on gratitude and grief, Kelly Buckley mentioned how she found the meaning of her pain and her life after losing her 23-year old son.

While it is true that practicing gratitude makes us resilient to negative emotions and distress, it cannot be denied that mundane misfortunes are inevitable and are bound to affect our well-being.

Grief Management With Gratitude

1. Cry your heart out

Crying doesn’t make us weak. Instead, it is an act of acceptance and awareness of our emotions. We cry because we know how we are feeling and why we are feeling so. It gives a vent to the pain and helps us to step up and change our lives.

2. Collect the broken pieces

Grieving with gratitude lets us appreciate the things that we still have. For example, for a person who just got fired from his job, thanking his family and friends, who stand by his side during the crisis, can help in reducing the pain. By consciously acknowledging their love and support, he can feel grateful and regain the motivation to look for other employment opportunities.

3. Ask for help

Do not hesitate to seek professional help when all your coping mechanisms fail. Studies have shown that people who practice gratitude are more willing to participate in counseling and therapy for managing their depression, and the prognosis is much brighter in such instances.

4. Keep a gratitude jar

Keep a glass jar or a transparent box and some small pieces of paper beside it. Take up one paper everyday and write about one thing that you are grateful for today. It may be your family, good health, loving friends, your home, or yourself for enduring so much – anything that made you feel blessed that day. As the jar gets filled up, you will naturally feel more gifted and hopeful.

The grief may still be there, but you will gain the strength to look beyond it.

Simple Gratitude Practices For Building Emotional Resilience

1. Meditation and breath control

Starting any gratitude practice with a brisk meditation and breath control session is a good idea. Deep breathing and constant focus allow the mind to settle down and gather itself. You feel more relaxed and more connected to yourself, and now is a good time to start your practice.

Here is a 2-minute meditation session that you can follow:

2. Gratitude list

Much like the gratitude journal, the gratitude list will help you come face-to-face with your blessings. Take a pen and paper (or your mobile notepad) and make a list of all those people who offered their support when you needed it the most. While you are writing, try to revert to the days and feel the thankfulness in your heart again. Once the list is made, look at it for 2 minutes and go back to work.

3. Gratitude notes

Once your gratitude list is completed, start writing small thank you note to each of the people you mentioned in the list before. The notes can be as short as you want, but make sure you are pouring your feelings into them. Send the messages to the people concerned – either as handwritten notes, or SMS, or emails. Just make sure your message reaches them and do not expect responses.

4. Reminiscence Meditation

* Sit back and start with a few deep breaths

* As you feel more relaxed, start recollecting a painful memory of the past. It may be some illness that you or your loved ones fought, your days of financial struggles, some personal failures, or the pain of losing someone you loved dearly

* Close your eyes and take yourself back to those days. Think of all the struggle and turmoils you went through at that time.

* Slowly move your attention and bring it back to the life you are living now.

* Think of all the things you thought you could never get after the hurtful past encounter.

* Imagine how safe and happy you are now and take a moment to rejoice your accomplishments silently.

* Stay there for a moment and slowly open your eyes.

Source: Madhuleena Roy Chowdhury, Psychiatric Counsellor, via Positive Psychology.

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