I may not be alone in thinking that the year 2020 has been especially rough. It’s really easy to get stuck focusing on what hasn’t gone right. I haven’t been able to hang out with friends, I haven’t been able to travel, and even the holidays are looking a little different. However, what I have found that helps shift my mindset is practicing gratitude. With just days until Thanksgiving and November being the month of gratitude, there is no better time to reflect on how powerful a tool this can be.
By focusing on gratitude, it helps you look at the world in a different way and change your perspective. It doesn’t matter where you are, or how difficult things may seem, there is always something to be grateful for. For me, I do this first thing in the morning. I write down five things I am grateful for. If I can’t think of anything, at the very least I can be grateful to be alive one more day. I also notice that in thinking about gratitude in the beginning of my day, I start to look for more things to be grateful for throughout the rest of the day. It helps you maintain a “glass half full” mentality. Gratitude helps put you in a mental and physical state that has the power to create actual change in your life.
Science shows that people who are grateful have better relationships with family and friends. It helps make problems more solvable with a positive approach. In addition, research shows that gratefulness enhances your organizational and motivating abilities. Therefore, if you are a peer tutor or mentor, grateful mentors are shown to be better mentors. The practice helps shift our focus from short-term gratifications to long-term goals.
There is plenty of evidence to show how gratitude helps improve our mental, emotional, and physical health. An experimental comparison showed that people who kept gratitude journals on a regular basis sleep better. (By the way, a gratitude journal can be any notebook you have lying around, creating a folder on your phone Notes section, or starting any word document – there is no right way.) They also have greater alertness, determination, energy, and are more productive. Practicing gratitude has also been shown to reduce anxiety and stress.
What are ways you can start implementing gratitude in your day:
- Write down 5 things you are grateful for every day – you can do this in a journal, think about it while walking to class, anywhere.
- Focus on helping others – helping others who are less fortunate, helps you realize just how lucky you are. You begin to find all the things to be grateful for.
- Create an evening routine – at the end of each day, think of 3 things that happened that day that were good.
For this weeks #MakeItHappen, try and start your own gratitude practice and notice whether you see a change in your attitude. Remember it won’t happen over night so keep at it. There is no better time than the week of Thanksgiving to reflect on all the good around you. Let us know how it’s going, and email us at firstname.lastname@example.org or share your story and tag us on social.
Go make it happen,
Luly & the YTeach Team
“When you know better, you do better.”
– Maya Angelou