Gratitude: Level 2
In the previous module, we explored the concept of gratitude and I said that this could be one of the most important modules you listen to on the MYND App.
We saw that Gratitude is about being thankful. Kind and appreciative of things in your life.
It’s about savouring moments and time rather than taking things for granted and perhaps simply letting things pass you by…almost unnoticed.
We looked at the huge benefits of having a more grateful approach to life and these were quite considerable.
In this module, I’ll share three proven and practical exercises you can do to increase your ‘gratitude’ approach to life.
Three Gratitude skills and techniques you could use to improve your gratitude levels
: Gratitude diary
If there is one thing you take away from the MYND App, let it be this exercise.
One of the most effective techniques you might try
Is what is called a daily gratitude diary?
With this technique, you simply make a daily list of good things that happen to you.
Just write down – or even simply the thing about – three to five things that either made you feel good that day or things you were grateful for.
And these could be anything from things at home, with the family or friends, at work, in your career, hobbies pastimes or other general life situations.
Do this for a minimum of two weeks.
The things you write down don’t have to be groundbreaking or massive deals but do make them specific.
You might mention a hug from your child, a smile from a friend or stranger, a nice coffee or meal you had.
It could be someone making a nice comment to you, your boss acknowledging something you did at work, or even something you did for someone that made you feel good.
When you start getting into a habit of writing down some of the good things that happened to you that day, your mind will be forced to scan the last 24 hours for positive and nice things
And as we’ve seen you can be quite broad on this so these will range from
- Things that made you smile or laugh that day
- Any accomplishment you made
- A pleasant social encounter with a friend or family member
- Something that made you feel good for the future
Just as aside, you’ll find you may even start to
Learn to savour the things you enjoy doing, rather than taking them for granted and letting them pass you by.
This simple technique has been proven to change the way our mind is wired for the better.
Please don’t underestimate how powerful this technique is.
In just a few minutes a day, this exercise will train your brain to become more skilled at being positive focused.
You’ll quickly start noticing and focusing on other possibilities for personal growth and you’ll find yourself in a much better place to seize on opportunities you might even have missed before.
At the same time, because you start focusing on the nicer things in your life, you’ll spend less time looking at negative things or things that would otherwise get you down or make you stressed.
As this nicer approach to life becomes more ingrained in your everyday life you will find that you can more easily ‘switch off’ those little things that might have previously caused you to feel stressed, and quickly focus on life’s pleasantries because they make you feel much better.
We spoke earlier about a negative focus being our more natural default way of thinking – a natural ‘setting’ in our mind.
We have a limited capacity to think of things so it becomes a simple matter of choice where you decide to focus – on the good stuff or the not so good.
You’ll quickly develop a more positive outlook on life – accepting all the hassles and problems that inevitably come your way, with a much more realistic and calm approach.
The most incredible findings on this simple exercise, is how long the feel-good factor actually lasts.
One research finding clearly showed that people who wrote three good things down every day for just one week were happier and less depressed six months later.
Yes! just one week of writing a gratitude journal – three things a day – can lead to six months of higher levels of happiness and lower levels of depression.
Why is that?
Quite simply, the better we get at scanning the world and our lives for good things, the more good things we noticed without even trying.
And even more amazingly, after stopping the exercise completely, the people who did the journal remained significantly happier and showed higher levels of optimism than before.
That’s worth a try in anyone’s book.
So you can see that a clear benefit of the diary or gratitude journal is that it gets you focusing on good things that happened to you that day and what quickly happens is that you tend to become positively focused – more optimistic about life in general, as opposed to that more habitual negative focused mindset.
If you knew that, by thinking in this way, you would improve your health and mindset – why would you not give it a try?
In terms of creating the new habit, try doing your journal at the same time every day.
Before going to bed could be ideal, and I know some people like to do it as a family whilst having their evening meal.
Ideal for sharing those special moments with loved ones and helping your own children create a healthier mindset
- Gratitude journal
A variation on writing 3-5 good things every day could be to write a short 10-20 journal about one good thing that happened to you or any positive experience – This exercise could be repeated 2 or 3 times a week for maximum benefit.
Again, research findings on this type of journal writing showed incredible results with people doing the journal experiencing not only larger spikes in happiness but also three months later the group doing the exercise experienced fewer symptoms of illness than a control group.
Another remarkable finding.
- Gratitude to others
Think of someone important from your past – someone who made a major positive difference to your life – and one that perhaps you haven’t previously expressed your thanks to for what they did for you.
Write a one-page letter of thanks to that person, expressing your gratitude to what they did for you and how that impacted your life.
It might be best to really take your time composing this thank you…
Then arrange to meet the person face to face, preferably somewhere reasonably private.
Read the testimonial to your friend and leave a little time to reminisce about the events and why they were special to you.
At the end of your meet, leave the testimonial with them as a gift.
Next, and when you’re alone, enjoy the afterglow of having taken the time and trouble to share such nice thoughts of appreciation with your friend.
Like everything on the MYND-app, the best changes in mindset and ultimately life satisfaction and well-being don’t just happen because you think of them.
it takes some conscious and concerted effort to improve – think of it as a lifestyle choice.
- use the techniques regularly and they soon become so habitual that you don’t even think about them.
As it becomes a habit you’ll find you won’t even think about doing these things – they just happen and you become more fulfilled in content in life as a consequence.
You’ll still get bad days –that’s natural. But the bad moments will be much infrequent and will last less when they do come along.
Being more grateful and thankful in life is one of those underestimated virtues that can bring a far greater benefit to you when compared with the time and effort that you have to invest for that return.
In that respect it’s a very high yielded investment – but one that seems scarce in today’s fast-moving, high-achievement lifestyle.
The reason gratitude works to increase life satisfaction is that it gets you focus on good things in your life at the expense of those things that might bring stress and other negative emotions and feelings
A gratitude focus encourages you to amplify good memories about the past
It increases the intensity and frequency of those memories whilst at the same time helping to filter out debilitating thoughts that can so easily give you a negative future focus, and instead, you develop a much more positive approach to the future
In this module, we shared three of the more practical and proven techniques to develop your attitude mindset – the daily diary, the more comprehensive journal and the letter to a friend.
Whichever approach you feel more comfortable with, take a conscious effort to really invest time to do the exercises properly.
Take home activity
Invest some time and effort into the gratitude exercise you like the most.
If it’s the daily 3-5 things, you might consider buying a nice new journal or notebook and keep it at the side of your bed, considering and writing your list every night before going to sleep. This will have the added benefit of making your last conscious thoughts of the day special ones!