Here's a fast way to improve your mood (and life).
As a young adult entering my thirties, I'm starting to see more and more that the responsibility I once craved is vastly overrated.
Thinking back to childhood, I recall a feeling of spaciousness in which time didn't exist.
Those hours spent playing outside and running around the neighborhood created a buoyant experience that only knew it was time to go home by the growl of my stomach or the orange setting sun.
Although I didn't recognize it as such at the time, in that fun and light atmosphere, I tasted freedom.
Currently working as a coach, licensed therapist, and doctorate student has forced my default setting to change from one of relaxation to productivity. And that's had a noticeable impact on my mood.
I now sprint through my task list feeling the pressure to perform at a high level every day, effectively turning this race into a marathon. This mentality has slowly decreased the amount of time I spend in stillness and tranquility. And that's what makes practicing gratitude even more important.
When you're used to performing at a high level, you start overlooking the small things that make your life worth living. You fail to appreciate the blessings that make the marathon worth running. And you forget to soak up every moment with your loved ones.
Pausing to reflect and truly feel appreciative for the millions of things going well in your daily life is one of the most valuable practices you can do.
Practicing gratitude not only helps you feel more grounded and peaceful, it also improves your ability to share that love with others. To give back. Say thank you. And re-commit to your heart-held values.
Below is an exercise that can be written or completed aloud. Each number can be used as an individual practice or all 7 can be combined into one exercise.
Here are 7 easy gratitude exercises that make everyone--even the most pessimistic people--feel happier:
With Thanksgiving approaching, we’ll all soon be taking time to acknowledge what we’re grateful for. It’s a nice gesture, of course, but why do we do it? What good is gratitude?
For more than a decade, I’ve been studying the effects of gratitude on physical health, on psychological well-being, and on our relationships with others.
In a series of studies, my colleagues and I have helped people systematically cultivate gratitude, usually by keeping a “gratitude journal” in which they regularly record the things for which they’re grateful. (For a description of this and other ways to cultivate gratitude, click here.)
Gratitude journals and other gratitude practices often seem so simple and basic; in our studies, we often have people keep gratitude journals for just three weeks. And yet the results have been overwhelming. We’ve studied more than one thousand people, from ages eight to 80, and found that people who practice gratitude consistently report a host of benefits:
31 Benefits of Gratitude: The Ultimate Science-Backed Guide