What Are You Grateful For?

The word Thankful on wood background
Image credit: photo by Pro Church Media on Unsplash.

Some of us are struggling with finding gratitude and things to be thankful for during this tumultuous time in history. With all of the shootings, acts of terrorism, natural disasters, political discord, sexual harassment and sexual assault, intolerance for difference and hate, it is sometimes really hard to focus on anything else that is positive.

It almost seems unnatural to focus on gratitude with everything negative occurring all around us. Although it can be challenging, it is possible to find things to be grateful for, it sometimes takes a lot of work to identify and embrace what is right in our lives instead of what is wrong. 

We Have Much To Feel Grateful For

Most of us, however, have a lot to feel grateful for. If we really take the time to sit quietly and tune into ourselves, and what we already have in our lives, most of us will be able to come up with many things to be grateful for. 

It might be that we are grateful for our:

  • Partner.
  • Children.
  • Grandchildren.
  • Family.
  • Friends.
  • Pets.
  • Career.
  • Health.

It is less about what we possess and more about those people or things in our lives, including our own good qualities that fill our heart and feed our soul. It might be that we feel grateful for living on Long Island, the joy of reading, and our love of music, dance, yoga or art.

Perhaps it is our creativity, our love of nature, our sense of humor, our athletic ability, intelligence, or our ability to problem-solve or our spirituality that fills us with gratitude. If we take the time to be mindful, our list can be an extensive one that we continue to add to.

Getting In Touch With Gratitude

Putting attention on what we feel grateful for does not mean that we are ignoring or minimizing what is emotionally painful in our life, whether it is personally or more globally.

It just means that it is important for our wellbeing to take the whole picture into account to find the balance between what makes us feel good in our lives and what does not. 

There have been many studies that talk about how getting in touch with our gratitude can enhance our feeling of wellbeing, increase happiness and may decrease depression and anxiety.

We might also experience a reduction in some physical symptoms such as headaches, gastric issues, and muscle tension if we focus on gratitude. Better sleep patterns; improved coping skills and interpersonal relationships could also be experienced with a shift toward embracing feelings of gratitude. 

Discover What Makes Us Feel Grateful 

Everybody is different and different things work for different people. The Thanksgiving and holiday season is a wonderful time to begin observing what we are grateful for. To begin this process, however it is important to continue this process throughout the year.

Some of us find developing a gratitude list very helpful. This could take the form of thinking of three things that we feel grateful for to start or end each day, or a process in which we write a gratitude list that we can add to and review regularly. 

By changing our attitude and developing a more positive perspective, we may be able to live more in the moment and experience ourselves and life in a more fulfilling way. If practiced consistently, the process of being mindful of what we are grateful for, and the positive effects, can be strengthened over time.

Just two or three weeks of filling out gratitude diaries each evening seems to improve mood, optimistic outlook, and life satisfaction, as well as making you more likely to help others.

Melanie Greenberg, Ph.D. psychologist, author.

Be Mindful of How Gratitude Feels

Check in with yourself, or talk with a psychotherapist, to help discover what might be most emotionally effective for you.

  • We can take notice of how we feel emotionally, physically and spiritually when we put our attention on our blessings. 
  • We may notice how our breathing slows down, and our neck, shoulders and stomach begin to feel more relaxed.
  • Suddenly a smile may naturally show up on our face. 
  • Our heart may feel full.

However, instead if we put our attention on what we don’t have, or what we feel is wrong, we will experience the opposite. Our breathing may quicken, our neck, shoulders and stomach may tighten. We may feel anxious, angry, depressed. We may notice how there is a scowl on our face if we focus on what we perceive as the negative aspects of our life. 

Is It Easy to Focus On Gratitude? 

As an adult, we have the choice to focus on what we are grateful for, or we can choose to focus on the negative aspects of life. It is not easy to focus on our gratitude when so much negativity is happening around us. It takes a conscious decision to turn our thoughts to positive ones by using mindfulness, motivation, and a real commitment to self. 

When we are feeling grateful, and living from that space as opposed to the negative space, this attitude can affect our family, friends and coworkers. By choosing to focus on what we are grateful for, versus on what is negative in our world, we can positively affect those around us. Gratitude is contagious, as is negativity. Choose to embrace gratitude and so you might reap the positive rewards.

Counting Blessings Instead of What Feels Like our Burdens 

If you struggle to find positivity, and gratitude, in your life, speaking with a trusted psychotherapist at Nassau Guidance & Counseling located on Long Island can help. Our licensed therapists have helped many people discover methods to reduce anxiety and help improve overall feelings of wellbeing. 

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