“Gratitude turns what we have into enough, and more. It turns denial into acceptance, chaos into order, confusion into clarity…it makes sense of our past, brings peace for today, and creates a vision for tomorrow.” Melody Beattie
The alarm goes off and you roll over and groan as he sunlight beams brightly through your curtains. You wonder why you even bother to get up, since the voice of depression that chatters incessantly tells you that this is going to be like countless days before. Another day filled with responsibility, tasks to accomplish, traffic to fight and people to encounter who expect you to be on. It’s all you can do to get yourself in an upright position and muscle your way through the day.
Although it seems difficult to do, one remedy for counteracting the effects of depression is gratitude. Keep in mind that anything done with commitment and consistency can have a potent impact. As is so with any practice, the more you engage in it, the greater the benefit.
Robert Emmons, PhD from the University of California conducted a study linking gratitude with wellbeing. He discovered that those who regularly focused on that for which they were grateful, “reported levels of the positive states of alertness, enthusiasm, determination, attentiveness and energy compared to a focus on hassles or a downward social comparison (ways in which participants thought they were better off than others).”
Why Are Grateful People Happier?
- They tend to be more optimistic; seeing the glass not only half full, but, indeed ‘all full,’ since although it might only be half filled with liquid, the other portion is air.
- They are generally more relaxed and tend to go with the flow.
- They see what is right and not just what is wrong with nearly any situation.
- They have a higher level of resilience and can bounce back from most challenges they face in their lives.
- They are better able to engage The Relaxation Response; a term that was coined by Herbert Benson, M.D, about which he says, “The relaxation response is a physical state of deep rest that changes the physical and emotional responses to stress… and the opposite of the fight or flight response.“
- They note a decrease in depressive symptoms such as excessive fatigue and lethargy, a loss of interest in life circumstances, poor appetite and sleep and/or a reduction in both.
- They experience as sense of accomplishment.
How Do You Begin and Sustain a Gratitude Practice?
- Begin and end each day with a mental list of what you are thankful for.
- Keep a gratitude journal.
- Take a gratitude walk in nature and notice all that your senses take in.
- Surround yourself with grateful people. Motivational speaker Jim Rohn states that “You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with.”
- Use positive self- talk, beginning with the words, “I am…” and then complete the sentence from there.
- Listen to positive music, also known as Posi’. Many of these songs express gratitude.