A stranger handed me a flower while I was out on a run. A true moment of gratefulness for me.
If you are a person and/or have a pulse, chances are you know someone on some sort of news feed who is hashtagging their way through gratefulness everyday. November is especially amusing with pictures of fall leaves, puppy dog ears and the like. I’m not one of those people who #grateful online – unfortunately, I’m not even regimented enough to make my bed every morning. For another blog post, perhaps.
Recently, I have been reading results of these experiments and how they positively impact depressive symptoms, relationships, self-esteem and the ultimate drive of not having enough. As a counselor in Newport Beach I see these topics brought up in session and wrought with pain and struggle. I recently decided to join a short-term focus group on gratefulness, which includes a campaign of writing different variations of things we are grateful for in life. Aside from my lack of discipline with sitting down and journaling, I found the exercises to be easy, implicit and helpful. Just one week in I see changes in the following: 1) a new sense of abundance; 2) slowing down; 3) acknowledgement of good friends; 4) acknowledgement of smaller gifts and wonders in my life.
Researchers and scientists from Stanford University and Southern Methodist University in Dallas can report findings that those who write down things they are grateful for experience the following:
- Relative absence of stress and depression
- Stronger immune system and lower blood pressure
- Increased goals and ability to complete them
- Closer in intimate relationships
- Increased determination and energy
- Increased happiness by 25%
- Decreased loneliness and isolation
- Acting with more generosity and compassion
As a therapist specializing in helping women with depression and self-love I don’t often endorse short-term coping tools to manage or fix the problem. However, what I love about this research is that it is so closely connected to our ultimate challenge to find our own value. Acknowledging what we’re gifted with each day disallows the self-inflicted myth that we’re unworthy. Slowing our minds down with writing and thoughtfulness guides us into a habit where we are worth time. And the concept of experiencing fullness and abundance challenges the perpetual emptiness that we find ourselves in and settle into.
If you are up for exploring beyond a gratefulness journal into a lifetime of abundance, I would love to help!
“I cannot tell you anything that, in a few minutes, will tell you how to be rich. But I can tell you how to feel rich, which is far better, let me tell you firsthand, than being rich. Be grateful – it’s the only totally reliable get-rich-quick scheme”
–Ben Stein, actor, comedian, economist