by Martine Bacci-Siegel
I wish to give thanks to you, Lord, with all of my heart; I will tell of your wonderful deeds. – Psalm 9:1
It is our human nature to dwell on the negative. This tendency is called the “negativity bias,” or the propensity to focus on problems, annoyances, and injustices in our lives rather than focusing on being grateful for the events or people in our lives that are working and we feel good about.
There are increasing indications that feeling grateful can have a powerfully positive effect on our lives, health, and psychological and emotional well-being. Research by Jeffrey J. Froh, an assistant professor of psychology at Hofstra University in Hempstead, N.Y., has found that adults who feel grateful are more optimistic; report more social satisfaction, experience less envy, less depression and fewer physical complaints. They also sleep better and get more exercise. Kids who experience more gratitude do better in school, set higher goals for themselves, derive more satisfaction from life, friends, family, and school and are generally less materialistic and have more desire to give back.
Here are some suggestions to help with being mindful of gratitude:
- Keep a gratitude journal – document daily what you feel grateful about
- Get a gratitude buddy and talk about what you are grateful for with your buddy. Your buddy can help you make sure you acknowledge where your joy comes from (the difference between bragging and feeling grateful).
- Pay a gratitude visit to someone who has helped you in the past or write them a letter.
- Pause mindfully during the day to when something happens that you feel grateful about; make a mental note.
- Watch your language even when talking to yourself – be mindful of when you are focusing on the negative.
- Savor the good times with family and friends. Photos, drawings, written accounts and verbally acknowledging and appreciating people and events keeps you focused on the things you feel grateful for.
This Thanksgiving, and all year, count your blessings! There are usually more than we tend to acknowledge.