The research is so strong and unambiguous on the positive effects of grateful thinking that many clinicians, like myself have applied it directly to their work, by asking clients to make a written note of three things that they have been appreciative of that day and to give each item a moments active, deliberate thinking and detailed recalling.
These points of appreciation can be small things in life, maybe the something that you would normally overlook, the laugh you had with a colleague,the story you heard from your child on the way to school,noticing the freshness of the morning as you go to work,seeing the snowdrops show their first shoots,having had the time to sit back and read, the book you are enjoying or the smell of the sea air.
Each time you write, remember, recall or relive a good moment such as the above, your mood is momentarily lifted.
Doing this over time has a distinct accumulative effect. In addition to the accumulative factor, it is setting the thought process on a positive trajectory which because of the associative patterning in our thought process refers you forward to further positive thoughts.
In other words you get on a positive track and once there, it is easier to stay there and to stay positive.
The second factor that the research indicates is protective of our mood is being able to look forward to something, however small
This is really about establishing a practice of good things ahead. They can of course be big things like holidays, but it appears that the smaller things frequently looked forward to have the greater effect. It may be a special dinner you like on a Wednesday, a film you wanted to see, a walk on the beach, an hour of silence and reading or a bath.
I frequently advise my clients that the balance in life is achieved by work rest and play, every day not once a year. So within that day of work, of commute, of children and school runs, caring for a parent or a child or whatever your day is, you need to section off some small piece where you can pause and think of yourself and do something that is for you – a small pleasure to which you can look forward.
These are two small actions that are shown to have a positive effect on mood. They are within our own control, manageable and applicable.
They are of course ideally combined with other known physical factors such as fitness, daily sunlight, good nutrition.
So consider making a small note before sleep of three things in your day that you value in your day that you are grateful for and recall them in detail and make a list of personal items that you can look forward to in the week and see if it makes a difference. Three lines on each is plenty and you then have that journal on your phone or in a note to refer to and to.
Just do it! Don’t be closed minded, try it!