Gratitude: Some Mental Hygiene
A grateful mind is a great mind which eventually attracts to itself great things. – Plato
Our minds often need a break from our thoughts.
We seem to be programmed to complain, worry, criticize and doubt. These thoughts do serve a purpose – making us aware of danger and preventing mistakes. But this defense can get out of hand and dominate our thoughts, weigh us down and make us miserable. Life can lose its luster as we get caught in our own minds.
Balance our Thoughts
Plato’s observation above is an excellent mental exercise to balance our thoughts and enhance personal peace and contentment. Research reveals that people who feel grateful have higher levels of well-being and are happier, less depressed, less stressed and more satisfied with their lives.
Expressing gratitude also leads to enthusiasm and inspiration, because it promotes the savoring of positive experiences, no matter what the present circumstances are in life.
But why wait for gratitude to hit us? We can deliberately cultivate gratitude, and increase our well-being and happiness right now. How? It’s easy.
Start by writing three or four things you are currently grateful for. Don’t have pen, paper or screen to write on? Reflect on the little things as well as the big things in your life that are going well:
- Things that went well today or yesterday
- Goals you have achieved
- Things you like about yourself
- What you like about where you live
- People who have touched your life in a good way: teachers, mentors, friends
- Even your dog or cat
- And your wonderful caring chiropractor (we had to add that)?
Do it once a day, a few times a week or once a week or any time.
Key for success: write with a friend. Ancient wisdom has shown us that learning with a study-partner improves our success in any endeavor.
NOTE from Dr. C: Two years ago, my gift to my yoga students was a gratitude jar into which they placed a daily “gratitude”. Delving into that jar at the end of the year and reading some of the “gratitudes” was a very salient reminder of all the joys through the year many of which get “forgotten.”
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