Gratitude. Really? Now? I’m not going to lie, writing blog posts has been tricky over the last couple of weeks. Losing track of the days, “teaching” three children (mainly about boredom and the important cricketing technique, sledging). Making increasingly ‘interesting’ meals, planning a once-a-week food shop so that the important things (coffee, mini-eggs) are not forgotten. Worrying about and checking-in by phone on friends and relatives.
What has come sharply into focus though, is the number of things I took for granted before. Now I see them with fresh eyes, and with gratitude. A garden, a well-stocked fridge, time at home with my household family and long phone calls with my socially distant family.
Gratitude is more than counting blessings, it’s a brain training exercise. As this article says, it’s about practicing like you would an instrument or a language. You don’t get grateful overnight. Some people write a gratitude journal, where they write lists and use gratitude prompts. For some this makes them a bit self-conscious, so another approach is to simply take more notice of what you have materially, socially and emotionally. Then you begin to see the beauty of the small, and the magnificence of the big.
The benefits of practicing gratitude are increasingly being studies. Some suggest that it can decrease anxiety and depression symptoms, alongside conventional medications, it increases empathy and compassion, and stimulates the brains reward system. Side effects – zero.
Lockdown has proved to be a crash course in many things: creativity, patience, resilience, accepting the imperfect, or as one friend put it, lowering standards. We could try practicing gratitude for free and see where it takes us. Take care of yourselves and others and in the meantime, I’ve put together some resources for you to play with:
Grace Wellbeing Pinterest Gratitude Board – prompts and infographics
Mindful Monday Online Group – this is a Facebook group where I do a weekly live meditation, 6th April is dedicated to gratitude. Videos are available after the live date.