Gratitude … it helps

Life is a roller-coaster, and, most of us have considered counselling/therapy at some point. As a person who has practiced counselling, I can easily say that given the scenario, most of us could not / did not opt for it. Though, some of us might be presently in the process of considering it, but, quite understandably, there are roadblocks like the taboo associated with seeking mental health services, choosing the right therapist, funds, keeping up regularly with the sessions, location of the counsellor’s office, so on and so forth.

Presently, every field is growing at such a rapid pace, with new products and ideas promising life-changing results, that it’s difficult to choose and/or stick to anything. Same holds true for the realm of psychology. The study of behavior has advanced by quantum leaps, and in fact, with the complexities of modern life, this growth is a necessity. Amidst this, there has arisen a ray of hope called ‘Gratitude Therapy’. The beauty of this self-explanatory concept lies in its ease of application. And the depth of human psyche where it brings about changes, is, tremendous.

The quality of being thankful, and willingness plus readiness to show appreciation counts as gratitude. And that is what this therapy is all about. The idea comes under the purview of ‘positive psychology’ – a stream that as opposed to common lore – focuses on ways human beings can thrive. Robert Emmons is world’s leading scientific expert on gratitude, and he has proven that this practice heals, energizes, and transforms lives.

Generally we keep ourselves attuned to how things might go wrong, thus living a life of fear. A paradigm shift backed by gains in knowledge can highlight the many ways we flourish. That, indeed, is the core of gratitude therapy.

Ways to Practice Gratitude Therapy

The elders of our families have already passed this wealth of knowledge to us. Joining hands, counting blessings, thanking powers that be, focusing on the glass half-full instead of half-empty are oft repeated, commonly applied and effective forms of gratitude therapy.

Let’s broaden the horizons by looking at more methods.

  • Gratitude Journal: A lot of us have dabbled in, or still pursue diary- writing. For majority, the charm fades away after a while. Rekindling that routine, and jotting at least five things everyday, that one is grateful for, can bring about huge benefits. This should be done as per ages-old adage – slowly, yet steadily. Regularity is the mantra here.
  • Talk Positive: Instead of constantly lamenting about one’s migraine issues s/he can mention the innocent joke cracked by son/daughter the previous evening. Whatever we persistently talk about, its nerve connections become stronger in our brain. So, there is point in believing that things are going right, as this faith itself will enhance the direction towards betterment. We don’t have to sugarcoat the reality, but staying upbeat will bring more solutions to us.
  • An End in Itself: Being able to spot ‘optimal’ in our life is not the purpose of this therapy. Putting an effort in this direction is. The process yields results since it activates reward pathways of the brain. In simpler terms, the brain feels good about this exercise, and asks for more of it.
  • Attitude Reversal: Think of a time when something went wrong. Readjust the lens to concentrate on five other things that went correct because of that.  It could be some new skill you acquired, a new insight you got – or it could be nothing! Yet, try to find the silver lining anyway, for as they say, the universe falls in love with a stubborn heart.
  • Compliment: Giving a genuine compliment requires that we selflessly look for the good in others. When done on a regular basis, it enhances both the giver and receiver’s self-confidence. It also makes interactions more enjoyable, thus reducing chances of depression and/or anxiety. As said by William James, an American philosopher and psychologist, “The deepest craving of human nature is the need to be appreciated.”

Acknowledging the good in our lives, and feeling gracious for every event/person/situation that we come across contributes hugely towards improved social relationships and problem-solving ability. It is a research-based practical approach that combines self-counselling, self-healing, and optimism. Also, sometimes we realize that a part of our life, or, entire life, is comfortable; but forget/miss appreciating that.

Indeed, “Feeling gratitude and not expressing it is like wrapping a present and not giving it”, said William Arthur Ward, a famous author and teacher.

So, go ahead – feel, say, and practice ‘Thanks’.

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