This has been a year like no other for all of us. We’ve had to draw on our resilience, creativity, and adaptability like never before. And yet, amidst all the disruption, there are still things to be thankful for. Indeed, gratitude is one of the most powerful things we can use to help us shift our mindset whenever we’re at a loss to find meaning.
Just a few minutes each day reflecting on things we’re grateful for is enough to improve mood, optimism, and even physical health and commitment to exercise. One of my favourite exersises is ‘The Happiness Journal’ from Richard Wiseman’s 59 Seconds: Think a Little, Change a Lot. This is a five-day series of brief journaling prompts designed to have a lasting effect on mood. I do the journal for a week 3 or 4 times a year, or more if I feel I need an extra happiness boost. The very first prompt in the Happiness Journal is giving thanks.
There are many things in your life for which to be grateful. These might include having close friends, being in a loving relationship, being part of a supportive family, enjoying good health, having a roof over your head or enough food to eat. Alternatively, you might have a job that you love, have happy memories of the past, recently had a nice experience, such as an especially lovely cup of coffee, enjoyed the smile of a stranger, had your dog welcome you home, eaten a great meal or stopped to smell the flowers. Think back over the past week and list three of these things.
Because of all its challenges, this year has been an opportunity to reflect on and build our inner resources. Some people choose extreme challenges like extreme long-distance running, climbing mountains or solo round-the-world sailing to challenge themselves, but this year none of us have had to look far from home for challenges that tested us to our limits–and taught us that we might be more resourceful than we know. For that, I am grateful.