Being grateful can help you forge a stronger sense of resilience and strength in challenging times. By SAMANTHA FRANCIS.
With all the depressing stories making headlines in Singapore these days—from a return to Phase 2 (heightened alert) to an eight-year high in suicide cases, it’s frankly been a challenge to feel grateful. However, difficult times like these are exactly why gratitude is necessary, as a thankful mindset can help to foster a greater sense of resilience and strength in our daily lives.
Making gratitude a habit can give us clarity as we navigate the unchartered waters of these tough times, especially with an ongoing pandemic. As positive psychology research shows, gratitude is consistently associated with greater happiness. Not only does it bring positive emotions to the fore, but it also encourages us to build stronger relationships and face adversity better.
Wondering how to start showing gratitude? Here are five exercises to try.
The simple act of putting pen to paper can be therapeutic as it helps us make sense of our emotions and problems. Gratitude journaling is a means to reflect on your past week or month and give thanks to a list of things you’re grateful for. The purpose is to focus on the good things you’ve encountered within a specific period, helping you to stay present at the moment instead of worrying about the distant past or future.
Got a spare mason jar from your favourite jams? Put it to good use by turning it into a gratitude jar, complete with any sort of decoration you fancy—paint it, paste stickers, or write an inspiring quote on it. Each day, jot down something you’re grateful for onto a small slip of paper and place it in a jar. Like saving money in a piggy bank, your jar will soon fill up with meaningful reasons to be thankful for.
Psychology research shows that consistent complaining can cause decreased levels of happiness and that long-term exposure to hormones produced during stressful events can shrink the hippocampus (the part of the brain involved with learning and memories). To curb this habit, commit to a complaint-free day each week. This helps to avoid self-victimisation and encourages you to take positive action in changing your life for the better.
Affirmations can be especially powerful as they shift the subconscious mind towards a more positive mindset. Having positive statements to guide your life, can help to overcome self-sabotaging and negative thoughts. Focus on creating affirmations that resonate with your lifestyle and habits, such as “I am thankful for learning and growing” or “I give thanks for goals I’ve attained.”
In an era of digital gratifications, it can be wonderful to receive a handwritten letter of gratitude. Take time to pen down a letter to either yourself or somebody in your life who has positively impacted you. Show gratitude by being detailed about how they’ve helped you or made you feel better. The effects of sending such a letter can be multifold—by witnessing the joy on the receiver’s face, you’ll likely feel happy too.