Gratitude in the Dark

In the midst of personal, national or global difficulties, it’s easy to lose perspective and only focus on the negative. It’s also common to think we can only be joyful or grateful in the “good” times. However, our capacity to practice gratitude in the midst of challenges may be the key to resilience and happiness in life.

Practicing gratitude doesn’t cost anything or take much time. Pausing for even a few moments to recall something or someone we are grateful for, and feeling the gratitude in our hearts, can shift our perspective and lift our spirits. In fact, scientific evidence shows the incredible positive effects of practicing gratitude.

Amy Morin, a psychotherapist and best-selling author, outlines “7 Scientifically Proven Benefits of Gratitude” in a Forbes magazine article, showing that gratitude:

  • Opens the door to more relationships
  • Improves physical health
  • Improves mental health
  • Enhances empathy and reduces aggression
  • Improves sleep
  • Improves self-esteem
  • Increases mental strength

Scientists have shown that one of the greatest contributors to overall happiness is how much gratitude you feel and express. This touching video demonstrates how people increased their happiness by sharing gratitude towards individuals who really mattered to them.

You might like to try this: Take a mindful breath, and as you exhale, allow
something or someone you are grateful for to come to mind. Maybe it’s that you had a cooling slice of watermelon to eat today, or a roof over your head during the rainstorm last night. Or you recall a kind word someone said.

Whatever it is, pause and savor the thought, feeling the gratitude in your whole body. Allow the remembrance to emerge and nourish you, even if just for a moment.

In the SHINE program, each participant receives a small journal at the last session, with the invitation to write down at least three things they are grateful for each day. That final session is called Celebrate Gratitude — the final Key to Mindfulness. This practice powerfully contributes to the greater resiliency our SHINE graduates experience as they navigate the unique challenges they face.

When is the last time you wrote down what you are grateful for?

And, for pure joy, give yourself a few moments of fun by watching and maybe even dancing along to the Gratitude Dance!

To what one breath can do,

 

 

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