Gratitude is an important ingredient in happiness and resilience. Studies show that people who are more grateful are also happier. We also know that with a little bit of practice, it’s pretty easy to lift your overall sense of gratitude. Martin Seligman, the founder of Positive Psychology recommends the following to help cultivate the feeling of being grateful: for our lives, for our relationships, for what we’ve overcome. Even if you’re in the midst of the overcoming, these habits can help give some perspective to what you currently have going for you. And I think that when we’re in a low spot and feeling least like taking stock of our disposition, it can be particularly important to do just that. Seligman’s four tips:
This is usually just a running tally of things that someone is grateful for. One of the advantages is that it can be done using art or collage and can be viewed later at a time when you’re down.
This is one of my favorites, since it takes such little investment
and gets such quick results. Despite all the promises, their actually aren’t a lot of things that can deliver like that. Here’s how it works: write three things each day for which you are grateful. The end.
Gratitude letter and visit
This one is more involved, but that’s part of what makes it so meaningful. Write a short, but detailed letter to someone who has had a meaningful impact in your life. Then, arrange a visit with that person to read the letter to them out loud. Then the two of you can discuss the letter. There will probably be tears.
A savoring day
You’ve probably noticed that we’re a culture of busy, to the point where it’s almost become competitive. You’ve ever overheard or been in one of those conversations, where people are treating busyness like it’s an Olympic sport? Jump out of the race for a day and schedule a day of savoring. Plan to do a number of things you enjoy, which don’t necessarily have to cost anything (think walking along a beautiful path, sitting in a comfortable chair), while being present to and grateful for the experience.