As the festive season approaches, some look forward to cozy family gatherings and nights partying out with friends, while others feel lost and overwhelmed as they compare their acual life to what their expectations of this time of the year should be like. For some this comparision creates a deep sense of solitude and not having enough. Though technology has made our lives so easy that things are available at the touch of a button and delivered straight to our door, many struggle with a perspective that makes them unhappy.
Researchers studying this phenomenon, made an interesting discovery. They propose that there is a positive correlation between gratitude and happiness i.e. gratitude ( irrespective of the material wealth one has) is strongly associated with greater happiness.
What is this about?
According to research, grateful people acknowledge the goodness in their lives and recognize that this goodness lies partially outside of themselves. This helps them connect to those around them in a deeper way. This process helps people feel positive emotions, build stronger relationships, savour good experiences and deal with adversity more constructively.
How is it done?
One can reflect about the past and retrieve positive memories from their childhood and younger versions of ourselves. One could also reflect about the present and be thankful for what life is giving at present. This helps develop a hopeful outlook about the present and also the future.
Postive psychology research found that those who reflect about the positive in their lives are not only more optimistic and feel better about their lives but also excercised more and had better health. Other studies propose that participants who wrote and delivered a letter of thanks to someone who has been kind to them, espressed a huge increase in their happiness scores that lasted for a month. Research also suggests that gratitude can improve romantic relationships. According to recent studies individuals who took time to express gratitude to their partner for what works in their relationship felt more positive towards the other and more secure even during difficult times.
3 Steps to increase your mental wellbeing
Practicing gratitude helps people appreciate what they have rather than thinking they wont be satisfied until their every need is met. Here are some steps to learn to refocus your perspective.
1.Meditate and reflect about what works in your life
Find the time to reflect about the positive in your life. It helps to be specific and focus also on the sensations you feel when something good happened to you.
2.Keep a gratitude journal
Keep track of what you are grateful for in a journal and occasionally share with your loved ones what gifts you recieved that day.
3. Say thank you
Express your appreciation to another person’s positive impact on your life even if this happened decades ago or that person has passed away. Writing a thank you letter will make you mentally revisit the positive experience and strengthen the relationship with the positive people in your life.
If you think that you can benefit from professional support on this, you can reach out here.
Sonya Galea is a family therapist with Willingness Team. She works with families and couples experiencing couple relationship issues and parenting struggles.
Harvard Health Publishing. (2021). Giving thanks can make you happier Retrieved from: https://www.health.harvard.edu/healthbeat/giving-thanks-can-make-you-happier