During the holiday season, being thankful and showing appreciation are often encouraged. We are thinking of gift ideas, ways to “pay it forward”, donating to different causes, and being intentional about returning kindness. This is a time to notice and appreciate the positives in life while finding ways to return kindness.
Gratitude is a powerful tool for increasing life satisfaction because it amplifies good memories about the past and enhances social connections. The positive emotion of gratitude connects us to the kindness of others. Think of the people in your life—parents, friends, teachers, coaches, teammates, employers, and so on—who have been especially kind to you. Reflect on their impact on your life and consider reaching out to express your gratitude. There is power in expressing gratitude to someone who has touched your life.
“Let gratitude be the pillow upon which you kneel to say your nightly prayer. And let faith be the bridge you build to overcome evil and welcome good”
Maya Angelou from Celebrations: Rituals of Peace and Prayer
Having an orientation towards noticing and appreciating the positives in life will be a trait that aids in your resilience. All of us are trying to persist in our desired reality. These efforts are sometimes shrouded in worry. Reserving some of our time for gratitude will influence us to find beauty in the present. Research has indicated that gratitude can increase life satisfaction, feelings of social connectedness, and humility. Gratitude can also help reduce symptoms associated with depression and anxiety.
Sometimes we enter seasons of life where it is challenging to have gratitude. We are overwhelmed with stress, encountering obstacles, and even experiencing conflict. During these times it is important to find the silver lining. In social psychology, this is also known as “benefit finding.” Benefit finding is the process of learning and flourishing after stressful or traumatic situations in ways that yield personal growth and well-being. Reframing our mindset to think: “Having [this experience] has made me more grateful for each day” or “[this experience] taught me how to adjust to things I cannot change.” Even focusing on one thing you are grateful for increases the energy of gratitude.
Easy ways to apply Gratitude:
- Writing lists of several things one is grateful for
- Thinking/writing about things/people one is grateful for
- Writing (sometimes delivering) a letter to someone thanking them (for a gift)
Engaging in practices that will improve self-esteem, optimism, and adjustment to difficulties can be challenging at first. With time and consistency practicing gratitude will connect us to true happiness in any season.
About the Writer…
Jamaica Okech is a current Master’s level student studying Social Work at the University of Texas at Arlington. As a native Texan and member of the Black community, she has a passion for finding ways to reduce harm in the lives of those in need. Jamaica is inspired to be in the mental health/counseling field due to the gaps she has witnessed in the treatment of historically marginalized communities.
As an aspiring clinician, Jamaica believes in the importance of therapy as a helpful tool to support individuals in their healing and self-discovery journeys. In her therapeutic approach, she provides an unbiased safe space for her client to grow at their own pace. She provides support by prioritizing their wellness through trauma-informed care, empowerment, and personalized treatment.
Mindfully Restored, LLC provides client-centered, trauma-informed services and products that will allow women to achieve new levels of resilience, healing, and life satisfaction. To learn more about our services, schedule a FREE consultation.