When we feel stuck by obstacles or down in general, it is difficult to see the positive. When fears and doubts are high, it is ironically the best time to seek gratitude. It may be challenging to be grateful for the thing that keeps us stuck, yet we can appreciate what does not keep us stuck—ultimately reducing anxiety and freeing up space to make healthier decisions.
Gratitude is like a muscle; it requires practice and intention to grow and strengthen. Humans are not hardwired to be grateful, thus making it even more important to practice gratitude. To practice gratitude, we first need to recognize what we are grateful for, acknowledge it, and appreciate it. When we practice gratitude, there is a greater chance to become “unstuck” while also promoting physical health, stress reduction, and overall peace.
In order to cultivate gratitude, I challenge you to commit to practicing 1 of the following 10 strategies every day for a month. You decide if practicing gratitude is worth it for your health!
- Maintain a gratitude journal, listing 1 thing you are grateful for right before you go to sleep and one thing you are grateful for when you wake up
- Give at least 1 compliment a day, which can be spoken directly to another individual, shared on a social media site, or by noting an appreciation of something in your life (e.g., nature)
- When presented with a challenging situation, ask yourself what you can learn and what this emotion, thought, or feeling is teaching you
- Set an intention not to complain, criticize or gossip. If you fall into a trap, pick yourself back up and continue your challenge—noticing how much energy is spent on negative thoughts
- Make someone feel valued by responding in an energetic tone (e.g., when someone asks how your day has been, when someone calls you, etc)
- Join a group or a worthy cause. Donate your time, money, or leadership and talent. Get involved and appreciate the organization (e.g., Rotary)
- Take 5 minutes out of your day to notice the external world—stand in awe and amazement in the beauty that we have the opportunity to live
- Count your blessings in your life daily
- Practice mental subtraction, or reflecting on your life if certain events had not happened (e.g., birth of a child, graduation from college, the connection with a friend)
- Savor your experiences (e.g., taking a trip, eating something new) and say thank you daily