I often see social media posts for 30 days of gratitude in the month of November. It is easy to adopt the attitude of gratitude when there is a holiday dedicated to the practice, but what if you were mindful of gratitude year-round?
Research has shown that a daily habit of listing at least 3 things for which you are grateful can be as powerful as an antidepressant in improving your mood over time. (Emmons & McCullough, 2003). I mean genuinely grateful. Not a list of things for which you think you SHOULD be grateful. But a list of things that bring a smile to your face, a swell of joy in your heart, and leave you with a sense of peace.
As you are on the lookout for these moments of gratitude, you are automatically building your mindfulness muscle. Let yourself savor these moments of gratitude when they happen and later when you write them down. Simply noticing these moments will activate new neural pathways in your brain so you can more easily recognize positivity in your environment (Drigas & Karyotaki, 2018).
As a species, we are already wired to find what is wrong in our environment (Brewer, 2021). To stay alive, we need to be fine-tuned to potential hazards. As a result, our brains do not find the positive as easily. We must intentionally train our brains to do that. When we build the conscious habit of seeing the positive, it balances our perspective of the negative. This protects us from burnout, depression, and long-term anxiety.
So don’t stop at 30 days of gratitude. Make it 365 days. The more you do it, the sooner you can start enjoying moments in your life that have previously been overlooked
For 15 years Amanda Averbeck has professionally supported family change in a variety of roles. After obtaining her B.S. in Family Studies from Texas Woman’s University, she taught at The Parenting Center as a Nurturing Parenting Facilitator for several years before returning to school for her Masters in Marriage and Family Therapy at Texas Wesleyan University. Currently, she is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist Associate, Gottman Leader trained, and a Satir Transformational Systemic Therapist. She is passionate about helping couples, families, and adults consciously choose the change they want. Amanda believes no matter what you are going through there is a way forward that leads to a happier and healthier you. Amanda works in the private practice setting at the private practice she founded, Authentically Rooted Counseling.
Brewer, J. (2021). Unwinding anxiety: New science shows how to break the cycles of worry and fear to heal your mind. Vermilion.
Drigas, A. S., Karyotaki, M., & Skianis, C. (2018). An Integrated Approach to Neuro-development, Neuroplasticity and Cognitive Improvement. International Journal of Recent Contributions from Engineering, Science & IT (IJES), 6(3), 4. https://doi.org/10.3991/IJES.V6I3.9034
Emmons, R. A., & McCullough, M. E. (2003). Counting blessings versus burdens: An experimental investigation of gratitude and subjective well-being in daily life. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 84(2), 377–389. https://doi.org/10.1037/0022-35184.108.40.2067