During this week of Thanksgiving, a time to reflect on gratitude, a psychologist describes her waiting-room intervention to encourage clients to focus their attention more on gratitude. Expressing gratitude for these seven things not only ease stress, but improve mood as well.
The simple act of expressing gratitude for one’s life fortunes offers such a powerful antidote to depression and anxiety that psychologist, Jessica Loftus integrated this practice as a counseling “intervention” in her waiting room years ago. A table-top wishing well bearing the sign, “Gratitude Well”, prominently displays the invitation to “write down one thing for which you are grateful on a piece of paper and toss it into the well.” Each week a gratitude drawn from the well is posted conspicuously in the waiting room. The Gratitude Well inspires clients, who are usually struggling with serious life problems, to think more positively, even for the moment.
Listed below are sample offerings to the Gratitude Well during 2018. Several themes emerged. Clients cited pets most frequently as a focus of their gratitude. This coincides with their frequent reports that pets are loyal, honest, unconditionally loving, present, non-judgmental, genuine and just fun. Supportive family and friends ranked a close second. Seeking or receiving support was prominently noted in client’s listing faith, people or willingness to seek help. Even though many clients struggled with anxiety and depression, many expressed gratitude for being alive. Simple, often taken for granted freedoms or experiences appeared, although with less frequency.
Here are the specific responses to the question, “What are you grateful for?”
My little Bunny, Hoppers. He brings a smile to my face.
My cat, Cinnamon
My beloved horse who is my faithful companion.
My dog, Zoey
Ralph, my dog, who always knows how to cheer me up.
Unconditional love from an animal
Walking my dog
Visiting a local animal shelter
Family and Friends
My loving sister
My healthy new-born baby
Little girls who can’t stop giggling
A real person
Friends who support me
Someone who is willing to truly listen to me
I am on the right side of the dirt!
I wake up every day even though I don’t want to.
Hope that this life will improve
Hope of a better future
Being alive to enjoy this glorious day
Grateful to be alive. Mom and Dad RIP.
Faith in God
God, who walks with me daily
All the gifts we are given but we miss.
Jesus, who forgives me
My guardian angel
Being in a world where I know that I am loved.
Getting Help with Life’s Problems
My willingness to seek help
Learning it’s okay to ask for help
Having a friendly ear on the ready
People in General
All of Whom I meet
The chance to show off my talents without judgment
It is not my fault for others’ cruel behaviors
This beautiful weather
Watching the clouds roll by on a lazy summer day.
Today’s glorious temperatures
A walk in the rain
What is this Psychologist Grateful for?
“I am grateful for all the opportunities in my life to use my true gifts to help others to find their true gifts and walk their true paths. I am also grateful for this opportunity to encourage all of you to focus a bit more on gratitude. While feasting on a bountiful Thanksgiving meal, take a few moments to reflect on the many simple things for which you are grateful. You will be amazed at how this will improve your mood.”
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