Attitude. Gratitude. Better Mood.
Recent studies appear to strengthen the link between an attitude of appreciation and feelings of happiness & well-being! And not, you’ll understand, just the kind of gratitude you might be showing for a haul of well-chosen Christmas presents… Instead, this Info Sheet looks at why the so-called Gratitude Attitude might work, and how to get the most out of it.
In what many see as an increasingly material world it makes quite a lot of sense to call more attention to what you already have instead of what one might want. Studies show that cultivating an appreciation for what is not only reduces anxiety but also increases feelings of well-being and happiness.
Yes! Those feelings of gratefulness also link to an increase in other important emotions: energy, optimism, and empathy. This is especially so when the feelings of gratitude are expressed to others. But wait! Before you dash out the door to find people to thank, let us tell you why this is the January edition of Bob’s Bones…
Happier New Year!
As we move in to the start of any new year, we see many of our clients come to the clinic having set goals to improve their health and change their habits. Every so often we also hear how some of them are committing to a Gratitude Attitude by starting a journal…
Sounds a bit namby-pamby! How does it work?
It’s a simple commitment to focusing on a thankful attitude towards things… But not, as one might think, in a religious way – although you could – and not in a ghastly, "Everything-is-always-just-fabulous" way either! Instead, it rests on some pretty sound common sense. You also need not turn into Bridget Jones or Adrian Mole to do it! Some people write as little as one sentence a day…
One sentence a day?
Yes! At the time of writing there is something of a resurgence in journal keeping… But, perhaps inevitably, the trend is toward bite-size entries. That’s because distilling an entire day in to one, two or three sentences focuses the mind and causes valuable introspection before putting pen to paper… This, as opposed to writing a lot but saying very little, is surprisingly valuable.
Where to start…
You might choose to try this out for a while by just typing stuff in your phone, or – old school – writing it out with pen and paper. Indeed, you might go the whole hog and buy a journal-style diary. In any case, we strongly suggest you keep up a trial for at least 30 days. Remember: you needn’t write much…
A short while before you go to bed, reflect on your day. Give thought to the people you met that were polite, or lovely! Give thought to things that went smoothly or well… Give thought to any opportunities that came up – whether they amounted to anything or not. At first you might find yourself diminishing the feelings of appreciation with a cursory thought: "I suppose I’m pleased I got to work okay – but what an awful day!” That sort of thinking happens quite naturally. Just try to focus your thoughts on the first part! When you’re ready, jot down a sentence or two – whatever you like – that leans towards positive, grateful thoughts…
As well as the benefits we’ve already mentioned, this kind of grateful thinking encourages positivity, and may help engage a problem-solving mindset. It’s also fair to say that positivity tends to be contagious! You’ve almost certainly had the experience of giving someone a friendly smile and a nod and seen that reciprocated, right?
Well, an attitude of sincere gratitude tends to help generate a positive mood. Great volumes have been already been written on how beneficial that is, not only in terms of health and happiness but also in regard to interacting with others.
Spread the Word!
It’s all well and good that you feel grateful, of course, and that your journal knows it! But what if that’s just the beginning? While you may not believe that saying a simple, courteous thank you demonstrably reinforces your positive feelings, you can bet the ‘ripples-in-a-pond’ effect comes in to play! To that end, some people pick up a pen and paper every few months and correspond with friends to whom they are grateful. Indeed, the thank you letter is even making a comeback among employers and employees! Others have tracked down old school teachers, whom they believe made a great difference to their lives, writing to let them know that they’re grateful for their input. And an increasingly large number of people are choosing to use gratitude as a focal point in their meditation exercises!
So that, in a nutshell, is how and why being grateful for even the smallest things can make you happier, heartier and healthier! Which means all we have left to do is say – most sincerely – thank you for reading.
Back in Shape cannot accept responsibility for the consequences of any action or inaction based on its Newsletter or Info Sheets. If you have any doubts or concerns over medical and health issues, our best advice is always to pop in to see us, visit your GP or call NHS Direct on 111 to discuss your health.