We are living in a complicated situation that has come with abrupt and unexpected changes, where it is natural to feel overwhelmed and want things to be different. However, focusing on everything that this crisis has taken away from us will not change anything, it will only increase our discomfort. On the other hand, gratitude, which means recognizing and valuing the positive aspects of our life, will favor our emotional well being.
Feeling grateful does not mean that we deny our difficulties or the discomfort that they make us feel; it is rather a way of remembering and being conscious of what we have and the people we have around us, which is something we could not be having right now.
After watching the news, plus the challenges that we have every day, it is natural that we ask ourselves: how will I feel grateful with everything that is going on?
Even though it is easier to focus on the negative, especially in situations of emergency or crisis, where we feel that we do not have anything to appreciate, in reality there will always be something to recognize and appreciate in our lives. It could be the fact that we have a plate of food on our table, a loved one near us, a home, or waking up healthy every morning… we take for granted all of this and forget its value, but let us have in mind that in the last months, unfortunately a lot of people have lost a family member or a friend.
This doesn’t mean that we ca not be affected with what is happening; contrary to this, we must be compasive with ourselves and accept that even though it is understandable that we feel hopeless, overwhelmed or anxious, the key is to find the tools that can help us to replenish and be able to be thankful, focus and appreciate what we do have.
Benefits of gratitude
Gratitude includes a pleasant affective experience and it is related with a greatest satisfaction with life, emotional wellness, optimism and hope. Likewise, it makes us feel more satisfaction with the positive aspects of our lives. People who are grateful tend to experience more happiness.
Also, gratitude lowers the risk of developing a psychological disorder, such as anxiety and depression, because gratitude is associated with using more positive stress coping strategies.
4 tools to practice gratitude
We can make gratitude an everyday practice, which will allow us to be more conscious of the positive aspects of our lives and in that way, little by little, we will have them present. Here are some ideas:
- Make a list of things that you feel grateful for, including your loved ones, your health, the moments you have lived, opportunities you had, material things, etc. You will be able to read it every time you notice you are focusing on what you wish were different or on what you do not have.
- Before starting an activity that is being hard for you to do, you can appreciate the opportunity to be able to do them. For example, before beginning to work, you can take a moment to appreciate the fact that you have a job, or you can be grateful to be able to give your child the opportunity to study before helping him with his homework. Also, before doing exercise, appreciate that you have a healthy body that allows you to do it, and so on.
- Practice gratitude with your family by gathering once a week to comment on something that each member wants to appreciate.
- Consider having a “gratitude journal” and before going to sleep you can write down some reasons about something that you have felt grateful for during the day.
It is very important to be thankful for the fact of having a family, because it is with them that we make the most powerful bonds of our lives. Take a time to say how much they mean to you, and if they are not with you, you can write to them or call them expressing your esteem.
What other ideas do you have to practice gratitude?
Moyano, N. C. (2010). Gratitud en la psicología positiva. Psicodebate. Psicología, Cultura y Sociedad, (10), 103-118.
Ramírez, T. C. (2011). El concepto de gratitud desde una perspectiva psicológica. Journal of Psychology, 13(1), 105-112.
By Maya Sordo - Psychology Intern