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.
About the author
Psychologist, Jeremy Dean, PhD is the founder and author of PsyBlog. He holds a doctorate in psychology from University College London and two other advanced degrees in psychology.
He has been writing about scientific research on PsyBlog since 2004. He is also the author of the book “Making Habits, Breaking Habits” (Da Capo, 2003) and several ebooks:
- Accept Yourself: How to feel a profound sense of warmth and self-compassion
- The Anxiety Plan: 42 Strategies For Worry, Phobias, OCD and Panic
- Spark: 17 Steps That Will Boost Your Motivation For Anything
- Activate: How To Find Joy Again By Changing What You Do
[Image credit: Darwin Bell]