As a born and raised New Yorker (have I mentioned that before?), my baseline attitude is sarcastic and grumpy. Over the past two years as my career in social work progressed and my personal life improved, I recognized that part of this change was a shift in my perspective. I was thankful for so many things. In part, I attribute those changes to my leaving New York and moving to “the sticks” in South Eastern Connecticut. The rest of the change came from actively working on finding gratitude and happy for the amazing things in my life. It’s not that I wasn’t thankful or had insight into the advantages I had in life. I was not sure how to identify, acknowledge and appreciate it.
There are countless studies that show noticing and acknowledging what is positive in your life can benefit your mental and physical health. The Huffington Post has a dedicated section on Gratitude. The New York City gal in me thinks that sounds a bit like a load of garbage. If anyone had told me to journal my positive thoughts or if would have laughed in their face and cracked a snarky joke. Now I try to create a mental list of the positive things that have happened each day. I had the honor and joy to work with the talented Cheryl Hughes who taught me to focus on what I am grateful for as a closing exercise for practice. It’s something I can hold onto for the rest of my day.
Positive self-talk plays a role in so many topics I was not sure where to put it. The conversation we have in our head that can sometimes (or consistently) tells us that we don’t deserve it, we are useless, worthless and that our doubt is justified can be combated with positive self-talk. Speaking compassionately with yourself even on your worst day is beneficial and a way to show gratitude. Like I noted in my post on mindfulness, even when you get lost in your own head while practicing not getting lost, giving yourself a hard time will only set you back. You bring yourself back and say in a kind and gentle voice, come back. If you miss a deadline or you scream at your partner, take a step back, acknowledge you mistake. Figure out what is really going on and move forward.
How do you show gratitude?