Gratitude is the thankful appreciation for that which is received. Research has shown that practicing gratitude is strongly associated with greater happiness. It can improve overall health and build stronger relationships. It can be hard to feel thankful these days, but if you take a deeper look, you begin to notice that we have much to be grateful for.
Here are a few things worth considering:
- The well-deserved recognition of healthcare workers for the absolutely critical work they do, sometimes at great personal risk, without abandoning their post, every single day of their careers.
- The guidance and worldwide collaboration of the scientific community, which has been quietly at work for years, even decades, to help prepare us to better navigate through this current health crisis.
- Recognition of the value of each person’s contribution to the whole. Never having considered how goods get to market, I now have the utmost gratitude for those who manufacture and transport the necessities I had taken for granted (Yes- even toilet paper!)
- The opportunity to spend more time with our families and notice the small things that can bring joy, like snuggling together on the couch, that are often overlooked in the hustle and bustle of our busy lives.
- The godsend that technology has provided in keeping us connected to each other through what otherwise would have been a dark and very, very lonely time.
- A chance to reboot and consider what really is important to us. We have been given the opportunity to see our own strengths and how we adapt under pressure.
Finding gratitude can be key to staying emotionally healthy during this crisis of such epic magnitude. So, take a few moments to find your own gratitude. It will be well worth the effort.
Here are some tips to get started:
- Keep a gratitude journal. Set some time aside for entries at the end of the day. Identify something that made you feel good. Was it the time you spent playing a game with your child or grandchild? Perhaps you wouldn’t have had this time if you had been commuting to the office. Or maybe it was the beautiful sunset at the end of the day, which you normally would miss if you were out shopping at a mall.
- Meditate while focusing on something you are thankful for. Not only will you feel less stressed through meditation, but you will solidify your sense of gratitude.
- A great way to strengthen your sense of gratitude is to state it. At first, you may only feel comfortable acknowledging it to yourself, but over time, you might let a loved one know that you really appreciated the small gesture of kindness they extended toward you. Writing a thank you note would be a great way to start. As an added bonus, by sharing your gratitude, you strengthen your relationships.
Once you begin focusing on gratitude, you will empower your positive emotions and see that happiness is possible even in the midst of a terrible situation.
Karen is a family nurse practitioner with over twenty-five years of experience in primary care, currently providing virtual care in a corporate setting. She has a special interest in lifestyle medicine.