By Lindsey Porter, Smart Works Edinburgh volunteer and owner of www.yoganuu.com
Continuing my belief that just as ‘5 a day’ of helpings of fruit and veg helps us to sustain a balanced healthy lifestyle, 5 a day of other activities can also support our greater wellbeing. Todays article contemplates ways and reminders to bring us into the present and help us cultivate a healthy attitude of gratitude. Why do we care about it? Well it’s thought that being thankful for things starts a chain reaction to happiness as well as a way to heal ourselves.
So to get you started on flexing your gratitude muscles here are 5 things to consider doing on a daily or frequent basis. As always if you find you do some or all of these things already, then acknowledge the good work you’re doing and spread the word.
- Being grateful for what we don’t have! You might be thinking something like how can I be grateful for not having material wealth, a better job, more patience etc. but here’s the thing what about pausing to be thankful for a whole bunch of things you don’t have that keeps you well. For example and assuming you’re UK based, being grateful we don’t have contaminated dirty water to drink, dangerous wildlife around us, life threatening toxic waste…and you can add more I’m sure.
- Gratefulness captured. You may have heard of gratitude journals where you write something down everyday that you feel grateful for but how about trying this that I came across – a gratitude jar. Write something down on a slip of paper fold it up and pop into a jar. When you get to the end of week/month/year tip them all out and read them, reflect and allow the bountiful feelings over a period of time wash back over you. If you have others at home why not encourage them to do the same and you could then read each other’s for something different? You can then get as creative as you like with your reminders like make a collage with them!
- Measuring your gratitude/happiness. Imagine like in the country of Bhutan, situated at the eastern end of the Himalayas we measured nationally our levels of happiness known as GNH (Gross National Happiness). What would be your criteria for measuring it and what score would you give yourself? If you scored yourself low, what actions, even small simples ones, could you take to improve on that number? Bhutan acknowledges even with the measure they are not perfect at providing happiness to citizens but just by outwardly committing to it and becoming more aware it probably makes it better.
- Reframe, reframe, reframe. Repetitive and perhaps slightly annoying advice but I do believe it can make a big difference in a positive way. Here’s an example you’re in a rush to catch the train to commute to work in the morning, suddenly a car pulls out in front of you and there is an impact. An instant response may be one of frustration and anger at messing up your day but you could also look at it from the point of view that it was fortunate no-one got hurt or suffered physical pain from the accident. And let’s face it, at some point we all make a mindless move in our car. A good reminder is to be more mindful when driving. Become aware of your negative thoughts, stop the downward spiral by pausing and looking to reframe the situation with a positive view on it. It gets easier with practice.
- Gratitude in action. Similar to one of the points I mentioned in my previous article about Wellbeing, by helping someone else you may find yourself getting something back which can often be a feeling of thankfulness. What could you do? Volunteering your time to help a charity, donating money for needy causes or just giving verbal support to people you know, people you don’t know. Saying a few more ‘thank yous’ during your day. I recently viewed an incredibly moving short clip about a woman’s personal gratitude project – view it at: https://www.facebook.com/Upworthy/videos/1272551406119048/
You may remember in the last article I talked about using a visual activity such as when you see a red traffic light to remind you to stop, pause and in this case, use to think about one thing in life you can be grateful for. I hope we’ve sown some seeds for you to grow a healthy attitude of gratitude. See you next time.
“Gratitude turns what we have into enough.”