Often I used to find myself thinking about all the stuff I wanted, the latest phone, that new bag, that professional job, that ‘prefect’ relationship! Sometimes it wasn’t even stuff I really wanted – just stuff other people had so I thought I had to have it too. But, then I’d get it, and realised it wasn’t that great after all, feel crap and then move on to wanting something new and It would all start over again. It was exhausting and I was just left feeling inadequate and dissatisfied.
But then I started appreciating the things I have rather than desiring the things I wanted.
Brain Boxes (Wood, Froh and Geraghty, 2010 – if you want to check it out yourself) have researched the benefits of being more grateful and found it;
- Increases Well-being
- Can help you look at your life as a whole (rather than focus, possibly negatively, on one aspect of it)
- Increase life satisfaction
- Help you deal with stressful situations
So all this from one simple thing– Being Grateful….Thats it!
How to do it
You could just go around being more grateful for stuff…but it’s likely you will go back to your old way of ‘I want’ thinking and it’s more beneficial to do it in a more structured way. One way to do this is to:
Set a specific time each week to write a ‘I’m grateful list’. This is a list of 5 things you are grateful for from the past week. That’s it…Nothing fancy!
If you wanted to do this on a more regular basis try writing a list of 3 things you are grateful each night.
I’ve been doing weekly ‘I’m grateful for’ lists for about 6 months. Each Sunday night before I go to bed I write my list. Some weeks it’s easy, other weeks I have to spend more time thinking about what I want to write. But I’ve always be able to complete the list!
I can honestly say it helped me;
I’ve found it has made me think throughout the week about the things I’m grateful for. Something will happen and I’ll make a mental note and think ‘That’s going on the list!’. Most of the time, when it comes to writing the list I’ve forgotten what it was I wanted to write – but in that moment, when it happened, it made me realised I was grateful.
When times have been tough, when I’ve been down or stressed, I’ve written a list and it’s made me realise that even when I feel bad I have things to be grateful for or even in a bad situation there is something to be grateful about. For example, when I was getting stressed about my studies I wrote ‘I’m grateful that I have found an area of work I’m interested in’. It made me remember what I was going through all that stress for.
Its shown me what REALLY matters to me. Rarely have I written anything about things I’ve brought or what I thought other people would want. I write all my lists in a book – so I can always look over them. Mostly of the items on my list relate to family and friends, experiences that have meant a lot to me or personal strengths.
I think doing this has made me a happier person – and it’s something I want to carry on doing.