As many of my clients struggle with symptoms of depression, I am always encouraged by the latest research and information on gratitude. In the last couple of years there has been an extensive amount of data collected supporting gratitude practice as a way out of depression. Although Thanksgiving is a wonderful time to feel and act grateful, we can continue the practice throughout the year with some simple actions.
Set aside a moment in your day to practice gratitude. I encourage folks to begin a gratitude journal and enter things they are grateful for every day. Many of my teens do not like to journal, so I encourage them to only post positive messages on snap chat, instagram, or even make a cool gratitude video on tick tok, etc This is a great way to use social media as a positive outlet in their lives, rather than a negative one. FYI, if you haven’t checked out our insta page click here.
Family meetings are a great way to start a practice of gratitude. In fact, thank you’s and appreciations are the first activity in the family meeting (see previous blog post).
Do a random act of kindness: Last Friday a kind person in front of me at Starbucks paid for my coffee and said, “have a Happy Friday!” Not only did it change my attitude about the day (it was raining and cold in Austin), it made me think of all the little things that I am thankful for.
Find a way to connect with someone who you are grateful to have in your life. Send a random card, email, or gift card. One of my friends sent me an “I appreciate you” card for no reason. Again, based on the research this not only changes my happiness level, but the person who sent the note also feels happier.
Have a “Gratitude Jar” at home or your place of employment and use either a marble or a slip of paper to represent acts of kindness. Each time someone feels thankful they put a marble in the jar and write an appreciation. Having a visual of all of the little things you are thankful for can make a big impact on your mood.
Studies show that people who make a conscious effort to note things they are grateful for are significantly happier than those who do not, even months after keeping a consistent gratitude journal.
Gratitude can work wonders in our relationships. When we show our partners, friends, parents or children that we are grateful for them, they are likely to appreciate us in return. Gratitude can rewire our brains to value the positive aspects of our relationships.
Need more science on gratitude, here’s a great article