How to Develop an Attitude of Gratitude

By Shaudi Adel, LMSW

As we try to stay cool during this heatwave in the city, I find myself complaining about the heat and humidity outdoors, and sometimes even the chilly, highly air-conditioned office I work in! The sad part is that only four months ago I was complaining about the longest winter I’ve ever experienced, and how I would basically do anything to feel the summer heat!

As you can probably tell, I have let the mindless complaints flow. I have forgotten to practice gratitude for the present moment and the positive experiences I am having during the temporary summer season (before winter strikes again!). If we are not finding moments to count our blessings or see the positive in a situation, we are sure to fall into a pattern of seeking out the negative in experiences, which takes a toll on our mental health. Here are some easy ways to develop an attitude of gratitude:

1.    Keep a gratitude journal and commit to write down 3-5 things you are grateful for at the end of the day. This technique is an easy one to implement in your wind-down routine before bed. Keeping the list simple with only 3-5 items can be an easy way to make gratitude a daily habit.

2.    When you’re outside, find something you are grateful for with one or more of your senses. For example, take a look around and identify something you are grateful to see. For me, I will make it a point to walk through Bryant Park on my way home from work in the evenings—it’s a fun way for me to practice gratitude of the greenery and the summer vibes! 

3.    Complete a gratitude meditation at the start of your day. A gratitude meditation is just a technical term for taking a predetermined amount of time to reflect on the people and things in your life you are grateful for. You can pair it with some deep breaths with your eyes closed if you’d like. Also, a quick online search can connect you to multiple gratitude meditation scripts or, if you prefer, you can find audio files to play that will guide you through a script.

The research is clear — adopting an attitude of gratitude is good for improving your mental and physical health, building self-esteem, lowering depression, and enhancing resiliency from trauma (Morin, 2015). Try to incorporate some gratitude into your day and allow yourself to experience the benefits of [literally] changing your brain through this simple behavior.

References:
Morin, A. (2015, April 3). 7 Scientifically Proven Benefits of Gratitude. Retrieved from https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/what-mentally-strong-people-dont-do/201504/7-scientifically-proven-benefits-gratitude

Shaudi Adel is a therapist at Cobb Psychotherapy. If you would like support in prioritizing and taking care of your mental health, contact Cobb Psychotherapy and see how therapy can help.