Written by Meg Metzger
Rahm Emanuel once said, “You never want a serious crisis to go to waste. And what I mean by that [is] it’s an opportunity to do things that you think you could not before.” Let’s face it, we have all experienced some degree of anxiety these past two years in relation to the Covid-19 pandemic. And while there has been unspeakable and irreversible damage done, it’s important to note that some of the most profound personal (and societal) growth happens in times of distress.
When the world seemingly came to a halt, it was impossible not to spend the days reflecting on our own life. And while it felt uncomfortable at first, a lot of us started enjoying the extra time for rest, intentional solitude, hobbies, and presence with loved ones. We found it unnecessary to sweat the small stuff and we began feeling a sense of fulfillment on even the most mundane days. The source of that fulfillment, growth, and presence lies in the power of gratitude.
So, what is that power exactly? Research shows that people who have a regular gratitude practice report elevated moods, more energy, and greater happiness. Not only that but grateful people tend to be more thoughtful, selfless, and forgiving. The simple act of giving thanks can have profound effects on our mental health. But with so much chaos and fear flooding our minds every day, it can be tough putting our focus towards something positive.
The concept of gratitude is fairly simple to grasp, but it’s not always easy achieve. Just like with developing any new habit, it takes practice. Everyone’s approach will look a little different, so here are some ideas on how you can start implementing gratitude into your daily life.
Putting your thoughts onto paper can be a great way to express what is on your mind. Only when we express our feelings can we gain clarity and compartmentalize our thoughts. The goal of gratitude is not to ignore the negative aspects of your life, but rather to confront them. It helps to start with writing down what is bothering you. Once these thoughts are released, we can more easily see the goodness that surrounds us. Take some time each day to journal out three things you are grateful for and watch how your attitude transforms.
Writing Thank You Notes
There is nothing better than receiving a heartfelt letter from someone. Whether it’s in the form of a written note, an email, or a text, take some time to thank a person who has had an influence on your life. Not only will they benefit from hearing how they made a positive impact, you will also be filled with joy and satisfaction from expressing how you feel. Put it in your schedule to do this at least once a month and see how your relationships strengthen.
If you’re not much of a writer, meditation is another powerful way to self-reflect and express gratitude. Find a quiet place to sit in silence and veer your thoughts towards someone or something that you are thankful for. Visualize a bright light in the center of your chest and watch it grow bigger with each and every mental thank you send out into the universe. Picture that light pouring onto others. Smile. Repeat. Notice how your perspective on the world shifts.
Through a lens of gratitude, we can perceive life as a source of abundance, rather than scarcity. In the wise words of Viktor Frankl, “Everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of the human freedoms—to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way.” So put on your grateful glasses and see how the world around you lights up.