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Fueling Resilience Through Gratitude

Even when we are attentive to the good in our lives, challenges can leave us intimately familiar with disappointments, worries, and setbacks. While we can't avoid struggles that cause us to feel vulnerable, practicing gratitude helps us to successfully navigate hardships. Whether openly expressed or quietly reflected upon, gratitude has proven benefits that can enhance our lives significantly. The practice of gratitude:

• Facilitates connections and strengthens relationships

• Improves physical health, including pain reduction, better sleep, and improved self-care • Helps challenge negative thoughts and reframe them in a way to better regulate our emotions • Creates opportunities to shift what we choose to focus on and how we choose to respond to external events • Diminishes attachment to negative emotions • Enhances empathy and compassion. • Reduces aggression and competitiveness • Improves confidence and self-esteem, and • Decreases feelings of stress and the impact of trauma.

Practicing gratitude is a powerful tool for mitigating negative feelings. This is not to suggest that there is no place for other emotions, rather that they can co-exist. Attending to both distressful feelings, and what we are grateful for, helps us to recover more quickly.

Cultivating a practice of gratitude helps hardwire positive neural pathways and feedback loops, to help safeguard our mental health and build resilience.

Incorporating gratitude into your daily life, like many strengths, takes intention and practice. There are many ways to cultivate a gratitude practice. This may include:

Keeping a Gratitude Journal, where you take time each day to write down what you're grateful for, reflecting on your feelings and the specific reasons behind your gratitude. This helps to make the positive emotions more tangible and emphasizes their significance. (The 5 Minute Journal is a great resource for this. It can be used as an App or can be purchased as a hardcover journal.)

Giving back to others is another powerful way to foster a sense of abundance and fulfillment. Utilize your unique strengths and talents to help those in need, and you will not only create a positive impact on others but also experience a sense of purpose and satisfaction within yourself.

Engaging in small acts of gratitude - such as smiling, saying thank you, or acknowledging kindnesses - can trigger genuine feelings of appreciation. This simple practice not only benefits you but also strengthens your connections with others, contributing to a positive and supportive environment.

Being mindful of your language is crucial. Using words that reflect thankfulness, such as gifts, blessings, and abundance, can cultivate a grateful mindset. Avoiding dwelling on negative aspects or complaints also helps reduce negativity's reinforcing effects and invites greater engagement with others.

Recalling happy memories is another effective way to boost your mood. By reminiscing about joyful moments, you can increase serotonin levels and experience a positive impact on your overall well-being. Bookmarking the good or meaningful moments in the here and now also enables you to access those memories in the future. It highlights what is important in your brain’s circuitry.

Finally, looking to the future and envisioning positive outcomes can prevent taking things for granted, especially during challenging times. This practice nurtures gratitude and helps maintain a positive perspective even in the face of uncertainty or change.

Incorporating these gratitude practices into your life can contribute significantly to your mental health and overall happiness - and to extend that positivity to others. And who can't benefit from a little positivity right now?



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