Scripps Ranch and Bankers Hill Therapist Sara Cole.
Mindfully thinking about all that you are thankful for can change the actual chemistry of your brain in positive ways. Then your habits and thought patterns change too.
So there has been big change in my life lately and like many people, I can struggle with change at times. This morning started out as one of those times. But I decided to do what I know works. Before I put my feet on the floor, I started to form a list in my head. A list of things I am thankful for.
It may sound basic and easy, but thinking of what you are grateful for can bring good change to your life and it can happen fast. In kindergarten we learn the importance of saying please and thank you, but being thankful is good for more than just good manners. Gratitude can become a state of mind. If I start right now listing things I am grateful for, the list will start to get longer than I expected. I will notice that I am now looking around for what else there is that I am thankful for.
Just talking about this process changes how I feel in my body and my mind. If I am listing "my gratitudes" it's really hard to feel sorry for myself at the very same time. I might start by thinking " I am thankful for my family, my health, the air I am breathing, my education, my job, my friends" and then I might start thinking about smaller things that bring me joy like "my new coffee maker, music, yoga, sunsets" and I could keep going. I might even start noticing that I am looking for new things to add to my thankful list.
I don't know if it is basic human nature or something we learn, but it's very easy to focus on what we want or we don't have. This thinking can easily take you down the rabbit hole of negative thinking. Negative thinking can then lead to feeling blah or depressed. On the flip side, focusing on what we have and what we appreciate, changes the focus and you start noticing more and more positive things in your day. That leads to more positive thoughts and to forming a habit of looking for the positive in your day or your life.
Starting to focus on what you are grateful for is a great way to start and end your day on a positive note. I don't want it to sound like focusing on your gratitudes, will solve all of your problems, because it won't. But making this simple change is an easy thing you can do on your own and right now, that can help. So in conjunction with your other positive and healthy habits, try increasing the time you spend thinking of all the good things in life, because there are a lot. More than you can even imagine. Ready? Okay go!
P.S. When I start looking for the good things in life, I get inspired to bring even more goodness into it. In other words, I get motivated to make other changes, try new things, meet new people and take better care of myself. It is very likely that this same wonderful thing will happen for you.
For another great way to care for yourself and start to shift your thinking in a positive direction is to try an exercise in self compassion. For more about self compassion, check out my post dear-self.html that talks about the importance of compassion for yourself and how to develop it.
For more ideas on how to improve your mood and your life, check out www.saracolemft.com. There you can also find out about Sara Cole MFT and how she may be able to help.
Sara Cole has been providing mental health services in San Diego for 15 years. Sara specializes in working with women and teen girls to overcome trauma and major life changes, including postpartum depression and anxiety. She is also passionate about providing treatment to those whose lives are affected by the addiction of a loved one.