Cognitive Behavioral Therapy
Gratitude In Daily Life
Cultivating gratitude in your daily life is one of the best ways to protect yourself against depression and other negative thoughts that lead to unhappiness. No matter who you are or what your situation is, there are surely some aspects of your existence that you can feel thankful for, and consciously recognizing these aspects helps you create a more balanced narrative, allowing for a more positive outlook on your present and future.
When we cultivate gratitude what we are really doing is tapping into the power of priming. In one experiment, subjects were given a list of words to read that all had to do with old age, like ‘elderly’, ‘frail’, and ‘sickness’. Then they were instructed to move on to the next series of tests in a room down the hall. But what was really being tested was how slowly they walked from one room to the next. Subjects who had been primed walked significantly slower than the control group that had not read them.
If you take some time every morning to go over a list of the things you are grateful for you will be implanting these anchors into yourself, consciously focusing on the good in your life, diverting your attention away from all of the areas you aren’t happy about. The neurotransmitters associated with higher levels of happiness like dopamine and serotonin will fire. Your behavior will follow suit. You will probably smile more, have a bounce in your step, and be more inclined to socialize and take risks, which in turn will lead to more positive experiences and their resulting positive emotions.
The idea is not to completely ignore the parts of your life that need changing, but you are probably already excruciatingly aware of everything that is going wrong. Take some time every day to focus your attention on what is going right and your mental health will improve without having to change any external variable.