Sometimes when you’re feeling low, it can be easy to shrug off the world and believe that no one has anything nice to offer, say or do these days.
Instead of putting the pressure on the entire world to show a little more kindness, let’s start somewhere easier—with you!
The key to improving your mood has been with you all along. A consistent focus on gratitude is crucial for tapping into joy and contentment. It’s not just about being thankful for the little parts of your day. With time and mindful attention, you’ll find that it’s also about going out of your way to show appreciation and live gratefully.
Not sure where to get started? No worries. let’s explore the practices below:
List of Things You’re Grateful For From This Past Week
In a 2010 study, researchers asked participants to list five things that they were grateful for from this past week.
The study compared their results with a separate group who was told to list five irritants or hassles from the week before. In addition, a control group listed five random things, not necessarily good or bad, from the past week.
The participants repeated this practice for several weeks and then were asked questions about their general wellbeing. Those who listed things they were grateful for, instead of things that were a hassle or just a random event, revealed a host of positive changes in their life.
They ended up rating their life as a whole better than the other groups, as well as their outlook for the upcoming week.
But that’s not all.
Grateful participants also reported fewer physical symptoms related to their illness or chronic conditions, as well as one additional hour spent exercising that week compared to the hassle-focused and general week-focused participants.
Spending only five minutes every week (or better, every day!) to show gratitude is proven to lift our mood and make us more motivated. So what happened this week that you’re grateful for? Did you try a calming new bath scrub? Have a laughed-until-you-cried moment with your partner? Or enjoy a few quiet meditative minutes this morning?
No matter how big or small it is, write it down! Every memory counts.
Letter of Gratitude to a Loved One
Relationships are a wellspring of gratitude too. Think of someone who’s been especially helpful to you lately. They could also be someone you find consistently treats you with kindness and respect.
Have you ever properly thanked them for their impact on your life? Take ten to twenty minutes writing a letter—yes, handwritten—expressing your thanks, then deliver it to them in person.
Similar to journaling, this exercise serves as a reminder to stop and show love for ourselves, our lives, and the people who play the most important roles in it. It also gives you a chance to reflect on your personal growth and recognize the importance of keeping that person close. (Especially if you struggle with self-isolation.)
One 2005 study showed that delivering one letter of gratitude to a loved one showed benefits to one’s subjective well-being lasting at least one month after the event compared to a placebo group.
Sharing our gratitude directly with others has even been shown to cancel out some of the most common irritants in long-term relationships and marriages. When you’re being grateful most of the time, the bad stuff just doesn’t come to mind as often.
Looking to change your mood for the better? Try these simple practices today! If getting started on your own feels like a heavy or intimidating step to take, not to worry. Consider working with a counselor soon.