In light of Thanksgiving…Canadian Thanksgiving, for the month of October, I will present a weekly challenge pertaining to Gratitude.
Gratitude Challenge- Detecting Positivity
The challenge: Do this gratitude challenge every day for one week.
Time: 5-10 minutes
Requirements: A quiet location where you can comfortably sit, a pen, paper
- Take 3 deep breaths, exhale slowly, and imagine the tension leaving the body
- Reflect on your day and choose 1-3 events that lifted your mood.
- Close your eyes and relive each event as vividly as you can. Use all your senses. What did you see? Was anybody else there? What were they doing? What where you doing? What sounds did you hear? Was there an pleasant aroma? Were you eating anything? How did it taste? How did you feel physically? Emotionally?
- For each event, write the following: ” Today , (write the date) I am grateful that ____ (write the event)____________ occurred. The reason(s) is/are ____________________” and list every way in which the event positively impacted you.
Example: Today, October 1st 2014, I am grateful for the walk I took this morning. The reasons are that while I was walking, the sun felt nice against my skin. It felt good to breathe in the fresh air. The view was beautiful, specifically the leaves changing color. After the walk, I felt energized and happier.
The outcome: By the end of the gratitude challenge, you may feel that you are more relaxed, your stress levels are lowered, and your mood is improved. Over time, you may notice that you are better able to detect positive events and appreciate their impact more readily.
Theory behind the exercise: The purpose of this gratitude challeng is to help you recognize daily positive events and their impact, while simultaneously linking these events to gratitude in a mindful manner. Entering into a relaxed state facilitates this exercise, and this is done by breathing deeply. Once in a relaxed state, remembering positive events becomes easier. Remembering these events increases feelings of happiness and life satisfaction, while decreasing feelings of stress, anxiety and sadness. The more vividly these events are remembered, the more you will recognize the positive impact these memories have on you (e.g. remembering that you ate your favorite food yesterday will have a positive affect on your mood, but remembering aroma of your favorite food, it’s texture as you bit into it, the way it tasted as you chewed it, and the satisfaction after swallowing the first bite, will have more of an impact). Now that you are feeling the positive impact of these events, feeling grateful for them becomes easier. Writing the phrase “I am grateful that ________ occurred.” and listing the reasons why, engages you and therefore enables your mind to make concrete links between the positive events, their impact, and gratitude. This in turn creates a more genuine feeling of gratitude, which has many benefits. These include higher levels of positive emotions, increased optimism, decreased feelings of loneliness and isolation, a stronger immune system, and lower blood pressure.
The more you have to feel grateful about, the more you experience these benefits.
Enjoy the positive experiences and keep feeling grateful for them!
We would love to know what your experience was like with this gratitude challenge in the comments below!