Mindfulness and Gratitude

Updated: Nov 11

Blog post written by,

Dr. Katharine Brooks


How does one define gratitude? Simply put, it is the quality of being thankful while having a readiness to show appreciation. Gratitude is a powerful tool we can use to expand our lives through enhancing our moods, attitudes, and mindset. In fact, research in the field of positive psychology has discovered that practicing gratitude can lead to an increased ability to deal with adversity, more positive emotions, improvement in health, strengthening of personal relationships, and an enhanced enjoyment of good experiences (Rash et al., 2011; Emmons & McCullough, 2003). So, it sounds simple enough, but what does practicing gratitude really mean, and how does one do it? Practicing gratitude comes down to an awareness of the things around us, focusing our perspectives on our appreciation of those things. In order to hone our focus and be able to tune into our feelings of appreciation, it is important that we practice mindfulness. Mindfulness is an emphasis of the present moment and the idea of approaching all things with presence and intention. When we regularly use mindfulness in our lives, we can see and experience more things that we may not typically recognize or appreciate, allowing us to be grateful. Using mindfulness to expand our feelings of gratitude can be done in a variety of ways, such as through some of the following recommendations:


1. Bringing presence into your day through your senses, taking the time to notice things you may usually overlook. Pay attention to the breeze rustling the leaves, the smell of your hot coffee, the feeling of droplets in a warm shower, the sounds of friends laughing. Connecting to your surroundings through your senses is an easy way to be mindful while also enhancing appreciation.

2. Creating a mood board or Pinterest page where you add pictures of things that bring you joy and gratitude. Cultivate this so it is suited to your likes and preferences. Then, regularly revisit this board and take the time to observe it while being fully present, focusing on the feelings of gratitude that arise.

3. Keeping a gratitude journal where you can document your appreciation and experiences, going back to look over it to remind yourself of all that you appreciate. Doing this consistently can accumulate more and more feelings of gratitude while also enhancing your awareness of things to be appreciative of.

4. Creating a text or email group where every day people submit to each other what they are grateful for. This is also a wonderfully beneficial way to explore things to be grateful for that you may not have previously considered.

5. Creating a favorite things box where you collect precious items that inspire feelings of gratitude. Gathering important photographs, trinkets, stones, jewelry, notes, or anything meaningful so that when you open the box you are able to focus your appreciation on these objects and foster feelings of joy.

6. Practicing a gratitude meditation where your mindful focus is on the feelings of gratitude. Here is a link to great one from YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OCorElLKFQE

7. Making a list of the people in your life who are important to you and taking the time to reflect on what they mean to you. Reaching out to these individuals to express your appreciation and words of affirmation is an additional way to further expand feelings of gratitude.

8. Creating an album on your phone of your favorite photos of people and places that expand your feelings of gratitude. Take the time to be present and look through these photos with intention to foster feelings of appreciation.

9. Repeating an affirmation such as “I am grateful for all the things in my life” or “I fully experience and express my gratitude” increases awareness around feelings of gratitude and can serve as a mantra during difficult times.

10. Making a list of all the things you are grateful for and why. Then, record yourself reading this list and play it back to yourself daily. Focus on the words and envision in your mind all that you are grateful for as you hear yourself speak.


Regardless of how we choose to practice gratitude for ourselves, when we are mindful, we can more easily recognize that there is an abundance of beauty in our daily lives. Taking the time to notice such things through mindfulness and attending to them with appreciation through gratitude is an excellent way to shift your mindset to one of more positivity and fulfillment. I have studied and practiced both gratitude and mindfulness in my own life as the two complement each other and contribute to enhancing my overall well-being. During times of hardship or stress, I have found that coming back to a mindful practice is a reliable way to center myself and regain feelings of control and clarity internally when things are out of control and unclear externally. I am excited to impart these understandings to others so that they can maximize their own well-being and live their lives in a way that is fulfilling and meaningful to them.


References:


Rash, Joshua, Matsuba, Kyle, Prkachin, & Kenneth (2011). Gratitude and Well-Being: Who Benefits the Most from a Gratitude Intervention?. Applied Psychology Health and Well-Being. 3. 350-369.


Emmons and McCullough (2003). Counting Blessings Versus Burdens: An Experimental Investigation of Gratitude and Subjective Well-Being in Daily. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology. 84(2), 377–389.

 

Dr. Katharine Brooks

Specializes in the treatment of anxiety disorders, mood disorders, as well as coping with stress and life transitions.


For more information about my services, please call me directly at 561-490-1643 or you can email me at drbrookspsyd@gmail.com. I'd be happy to provide more details and a FREE phone consultation. I look forward to getting to know you!

Sessions available in person and online!


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