You’ve no doubt heard a lot about gratitude in recent years. So what’s it all about? In fact, nothing less than helping you feel good about yourself and your life when otherwise you might feel bad.
Let’s say you’re feeling down and thinking obsessively about how unattractive or unsuccessful you are or how useless it is to try to improve your life. At such a time, whether you’re in bed or on the subway or sitting listlessly at your desk, you might try to think about something good that happened to you in the past few days.
Perhaps you were running a little late and the train came just as you passed through the turnstiles, allowing you to show up to school or work on time and prevent additional stress in your life. Perhaps the medical test turned out negative. Or it finally stopped raining. Or the local supermarket finally began to carry one of your favorite products. Or you found a dress for an important occasion that flattered you.
Typically, we take these kinds of things for granted after the initial hit and just keep rolling along in our minds about phenomena that irritate or worry or depress us. But if you stop your usual thinking and call to mind the good stuff that has happened and say thank you for it (to yourself or aloud somewhere), you’ll instantly feel better – because you’ll be reminding yourself of how fortunate instead of how deprived you are.
I find it useful to start and/or end each day by recalling what came up during the previous day I can be grateful for. And there’s always something to be thankful for – if one can see, hear, walk, talk, brush one’s own teeth!