How Grateful Are You?

poppies bannerNovember has been designated a month for Gratitude in both the USA and Britain for different reasons. In Europe we have a Day of Remembrance on the 11th and as we see the Remembrance poppies gradually appear on our streets we are reminded of ordinary people just like us who gave their lives so that we can live in peace.

Gratitude and giving thanks are incredibly powerful mindfulness practices that we can use in our lives to increase our wellbeing and nourish relationships. It’s easy to be grateful when things are going well, and equally as easy to let this slip when life takes over or gets challenging. This of course is when we need to flex our gratitude muscle the most.

Sharing our gratitude with others is so important and research in the field of Positive Psychology shows that we are more likely to feel and express gratitude when shown kindness by a stranger than towards those whose lives we share:

When was the last time you thanked your partner for being there for you?!

How do you think they might feel if you took that one step towards them?

For the past twenty years I’ve been marking each November by re-focussing on my daily gratitude practice, and more recently I’ve been using the power of social media to keep myself on track. Making a pledge to post something different that I’m grateful for every single day of November on Twitter or Facebook really helps get me back on track!

This year I’m using Instagram to give myself the extra little challenge of finding a nice image to go with each reflection. If you fancy following me you can check if I manage it, and I’d love you to join in! Or if you prefer to receive prompts there’s an online 30 Day Gratitude Challenge (not run by me) that you could sign up for .

And of course gratitude goes hand in hand with Kindness. There are lots of groups and projects springing up around kindness and compassion, with an excellent Facebook group in my area of Tyne and Wear that encourages members to both carry out and notice acts of kindness in their everyday lives.

So go ahead and try it, ask yourself once a day every day of November .. what am I grateful for right now?

 

Gratitude-Month

References
Gratitude and Positive Psychology: What is Gratitude and What are the Benefits of Gratitude? Meade, Claire. http://positivepsychology.org.uk/gratitude/ accessed 8 November 2017.

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Gratitude

“Feeling gratitude and not expressing it is like wrapping a present and not giving it.”

William Arthur Ward

Something often missing with couples who are experiencing difficulties is gratitude. It’s easy to take for granted all the little things our partners do for us every day and focus on the things they do wrong, the dishes in the sink, the unmended cupboard door .. but what if we take a moment to think about all the things they are doing right?

Since 2000 scientists have been finding that people who practice gratitude consistently report a host of benefits:

Stronger immune systems and lower blood pressure
More joy, optimism, and happiness
Feeling less lonely and isolated

Gratitude has two key components: firstly it reminds us that there are gifts and benefits we’re consistently receiving from our partner and those around us.

Robert Emmons, perhaps the world’s leading scientific expert on gratitude, writes “I see it as a relationship-strengthening emotion, because it requires us to see how we’ve been supported and affirmed by other people.”

The second part of practising gratitude is to express it, to acknowledge the other people who give us so many gifts, big and small, to help us achieve the goodness in our lives each day.

November is Gratitude Month, and I will be marking each day of this month by keeping a gratitude journal, noting down something different each day and meditating on it.

To start your gratitude practise, take just a few minutes each day to think of at least one thing you’re grateful to your partner for .. take note, some days this will be easier than others! ;-D

Once you’ve got this down find creative ways to let your partner know how much you appreciate what they do .. a hug and a thank you, or a note left in their lunch box to find at work?

This can also be a good exercise when you’re frustrated with your spouse and about to explode! Take some time out to remember what they do for you, and when you’re ready to face them start off by reminding them how much they do, before letting them know that broken cupboard door is driving you crazy!

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I love to hear what you think about the topics raised in my blog, and how you apply these in your life. Do leave Comments below or get in touch using my Contact details.