A week ago I suggested a simple gratitude exercise as an evidenced-based way of improving your mood over the long term. Research suggests this exercise is beneficial if carried out on a regular basis. So this is your reminder to set aside a couple of minutes today to be thankful for what you've got.
Also, when you do the exercise, try to vary it somewhat from last week. We easily get used to particular ways of thinking so variety is key to the exercise's continued effectiveness.
One of the easiest ways to introduce variety is to change the focus of your gratitude. For example if last week you were thankful mainly about personal relationships - say, your family and friends - this week move on to a different area like food, sport, health, or even aspects of your own or other's personality. You could even use the character strengths you identified and be thankful for your 'signature strengths'.
Another way of varying the activity is not just to change what you're thankful about, but to use a different mode of expressing it. Say last week you thought grateful thoughts, this week you could put pen to paper and write them down, perhaps even start a gratitude journal. Next week you could draw a gratitude picture, the week after you could thank the people you are grateful to with a card or face-to-face.
Thanks for your comments
It was great to see such a positive response to this exercise from commenters. Some had personally found this exercise to be useful in the past, others thought this was a refreshing change from the usual focus of psychology on deficits, and many expressed their gratitude for the post. Well thank you for taking the time to comment!
Feel free to post up your experiences with this exercise or even write below what you're grateful for.
[Image credit: Darwin Bell]
Making Habits, Breaking Habits
In his new book, Jeremy Dean--psychologist and author of PsyBlog--looks at how habits work, why they are so hard to change, and how to break bad old cycles and develop new healthy, creative, happy habits.
→ "Making Habits, Breaking Habits", is available now on Amazon.Reviews
The Bookseller, “Editor’s Pick,” 10/12/12 “Sensible and very readable…By far the most useful of this month’s New You offerings.”
Kirkus Reviews, 1/1/13 “Making changes does take longer than we may expect—no 30-day, 30-pounds-lighter quick fix—but by following the guidelines laid out by Dean, readers have a decent chance at establishing fulfilling, new patterns.”
Publishers Weekly, 12/10/12 “An accessible and informative guide for readers to take control of their lives.”