Even though I love the holiday season, I experience stress during the hustle and bustle that accompanies this time of year and I know I am not alone in getting a bit tense and anxious. The first #FabFeats “pillar of positivity” I have chosen, therefore, is the practice of gratitude.
Robert Emmons defines gratitude as “a felt sense of wonder, thankfulness, and appreciation for life.” Brene Brown (brenebrown.com), who has conducted extensive research on gratitude, has discovered that a commonality among people who are living joyful lives is their inclusion of gratitude in their daily activities. While our Neanderthal ancestors needed to be attuned to threats to survive, unfortunately, even though we no longer regularly battle wild animals for survival, our brains are still wired towards a negative focus. The practice of gratitude reconnects us to an awareness of the positives in life.
The benefits of practicing gratitude are numerous: less depression, anxiety, envy; better able to cope with stress; increased social bonds; more energy, hopeful; more frequent positive emotions; higher self esteem.
I have experimented with a number of gratitude techniques in order to find those that resonate particularly with me. Below are a few exercises and suggestions that you may wish to try:
- Keeping a gratitude journal: There are many variations on the gratitude journal. Research suggests that writing once or twice a week rather than daily is most effective. Keep an ongoing list of people for whom you are thankful and why. Going into detail can be more beneficial than making a longer, but more superficial, list. In the end, do what feels comfortable for you and put some time aside so that you are present and aware when you are recording in your journal.
- Write a Gratitude Letter: Take a few minutes to write a letter to someone expressing thanks for what they have contributed to your life. Be specific. If possible, personally deliver the letter and read it aloud to the person. Not only will you benefit, so will the receiver of your letter.
- Fill a Gratitude Box: Decorate a box and place items that remind you of a happy memory (concert ticket stub, thank you note received, picture, etc.) in it. Every week, spend a few minutes looking through the items and reliving the experiences.
- Create a Gratitude Board: Create a collage of things for which you are grateful and place it in a spot that you will regularly see it. Change up the items from time to time to keep it fresh.
- Throw a Gratitude Party: Invite some friends over and ask them each to write a short note about something for which they are grateful. Read aloud or share the notes with each other.
It’s time to start the movement – Join me and we will infuse our holiday celebrations with gratitude.
Looking forward to seeing how each of you expresses your Practice of Gratitude:
Post a picture, video, or note on the Facebook page: Fabulous Feats.
Tweet out your experience with using: #FabFeats
I don’t have to chase extraordinary moments to find happiness – it’s right in front of me if I’m paying attention and practicing gratitude. -Brene Brown