Thankfulness in November: Use Gratitude To Change Your Mood
At our Columbia, MO counseling clinic, we often leave something in our lobby that clients can use to practice gratitude. Maybe it’s slips of paper that clients and their loved ones can write things they are thankful for on and slip into a gratitude jar. Other times it’s blank gratitude journals that clients can choose one and take home to write in. It may be thank you notes with an invitation to write as many as you want while you’ve waiting in our lobby. The reason is this simple…if someone comes into our office feeling anxious, stressed or worried about facing their own emotions, we want to give them a quick way to bring out positive emotions and help them relax. Other times clients choose to engage in these self care activities after a session to help them transition to the “real world” feeling less raw.
Gratitude Can Help Change Your Emotions
Try it out. Spend about 30 second right now thinking of three things you are grateful for. You might choose to close your eyes and bring to mind three people you love. Or you might choose to look around you and notice three things that are keeping you safe and comfortable in your present environment.
Now how do you feel after thinking of these three things? Feel any sense of fullness or joy? Maybe you even smiled involuntarily. Focusing on gratitude has a magical effect on most people where it makes us just feel….better…good…happy. Here are three ways you can cultivate a feeling of gratitude right now.
Send Three Text Messages
Similar to what I described in my last Thankfulness blog post, try sending three text messages to people explaining what you appreciate about them. Make it short, sweet and to the point. Just show them that you care. It’s almost better if you thank them for something small, something they thought nobody noticed. You may get a text back, but even if you don’t, it will likely make you feel good just to focus on something positive and know that you expressed your appreciation.
Express Gratitude to Another Person
It’s common for me to ask clients in the middle of a session to name three things they are grateful for. Sometimes they sit there quietly thinking of three things in their head. I always encourage them to name what they’re grateful for outloud. Why? There is something powerful about saying it aloud and having another person witness what you are saying. Another option is to tell another person three things you are grateful for about them personally. For instance I might tell my husband, “I’m so glad that you changed the cat litter tonight. I was dreading doing it myself and it meant a lot to me that you took care of that. In fact, you’re done a lot of nice things today. Thank you for making dinner and helping get the kids ready for bed too!”
Meditation focused on gratitude or sending positive feelings out to the world can be a powerful way to ground yourself and change your feelings. I often do a loving kindness meditation when I find myself feeling strong negative feelings (annoyance, judgment or even disgust) toward other people. However, even when your negative emotions aren’t directed toward another person a meditation focused on something positive like gratitude can be incredibly powerful in changing your mood and help cultivate positive emotions!
If You are Struggling
If you are struggling to find a sense of Gratitude and feeling particularly depressed this holiday season, consider reaching out to Aspire Counseling. You can call us at 573-328-2288 and we would love to talk about how counseling might help you find your sense of hope, purpose and meaning again.
About the Author
Jessica is the founder of Aspire Counseling in Columbia, MO. She is an advocate of expressing gratitude and often talks about the concepts of thankfulness and gratitude in individual sessions with clients. Jessica specializes in treating people who feel stuck in the past and held back by the negative experiences they’ve endured. Jessica believes in the healing power of individual counseling and formed Aspire Counseling in May 2017. Aspire Counseling specializes in treating trauma, anxiety, grief and overwhelming stress through counseling for adults, college students & teenagers. If you live in the Columbia, MO area and would like to talk to someone about how counseling might help you move beyond surviving and toward thriving, please contact Aspire Counseling by e-mail or by calling 573-328-2288. You don’t have to stay stuck. Healing starts here.