The principle is simple; if you focus on something, it starts to dominate your life. If you focus on your mistakes and your problems, then you will start to find more and more that things don’t work as they should. Similarly, if you focus on what is right in your life, you start to find more and more things that work perfectly. What is great about this principle is that you can copy it into all areas of your life so that everything works! The concept I'm speaking about here is gratitude.
Where do you focus in your life?
Gratitude is based on one specialty of our brain activity. The more you do a particular thing (whether it is counting, crocheting, fishing, or even practicing gratitude), the stronger the connection becomes between the nerves of your brain. And the stronger the binding gets, the more automated this action becomes.
We often focus on things we are not so good at. That means that we always focus on finding a weak link. We might look for a weak link in our knowledge, in our skills, and in our abilities. Actually, what we do is we focus on things we are worse at or weaker at than someone else (maybe it's our neighbor, schoolmate, relative, coworker, or it can even be some very well-known person). Comparing ourselves to others like this has been shown in various studies to raise the risk of burnout.
When we look for things that we are not good at, then we focus on only these things. We focus only on the negative. And that way of thinking becomes part of our daily habit. We begin to see only mistakes and shortcomings in everything. When we think like this, nothing is good anymore. Nothing is valid anymore. The downside of this kind of thinking is, that if you are just looking for errors and weaknesses and not actively looking for solutions (followed by action) then this practice will hugely increase your stress levels.
Maybe there is another possibility! What if you start focusing on what is good in your life? What if, you focus on what you already know? What if you focus on your successess and experiences instead of your failures and shortcomings?
What if you could be grateful for all of the good in your life?
What is the actual benefit of gratitude?
And why should we bother?
Gratitude is a subject that has been studied thoroughly. According to research results, gratitude:
- increases your well-being
- strengthens family connections and friendships
- expands awareness
- allows for flexible and creative thinking
- eases stress
- improves your mood
- adds coping capacity
- adds satisfaction to life
- increases the accessibility of positive memories
- increases the feeling of tranquility and rest
- helps to get rid of substance abuse
- reduces depression
- raises the quality of life of the chronically ill
- significantly improves mental health.
That is quite a list, wouldn't you say?
So what about you? Are you willing to make your life happier and have more well-being by making gratitude a daily practice?
Gratitude makes sense of our past, brings peace for today, and creates a vision for tomorrow.
How can you add gratitude into your life?
Fortunately, the pursuit of gratitude requires nothing special. All you need is paper, a pen, and a few minutes.
- Before going to bed you can make a list of all things you were grateful for that day. Maybe you learned something new, succeeded at something, met a friend, or maybe a stranger smiled at you on the street (no, definitely not the latter, it would be toooooo weird).
- You can write a list of all the skills and abilities you have.
- You can write a list of all the people who have helped you during the last week, month or year.
- You can write a list of all the movies that uplift your mood.
- You can write a list of all the difficulties you have had, and conquered, that have made you stronger than you were before.
There are so many different lists you could write to generate gratitude.
Drawing a blank?
Don't worry! Join the free 7 day gratitude challenge. I will give you an opportunity to celebrate things you are grateful for during these 7 days. Want to add more light to your life? Would you love to add more glory and brightness? Join the tribe of happy people who make gratitude a daily practice!
1. Emmons, R. A., & McCullough M. E. (2003). Counting Blessings Versus Burdens: An Experimental Investigation of Gratitude and Subjective Well-Being in Daily Life. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 84, 377–389.
2. Watkins, P. C.; Woodward, K.; Stone, T.; Kolts, R. L. (2003). Gratitude and Happiness: Development of a Measure of Gratitude, and Relationships with Subjective Well-Being. Social Behavior and Personality: and international journal, 31, 431-451.
5. Krentzman, A. R. ja toiset (2015). Feasibility, acceptability, and impact of a web-based gratitude exercise among individuals in outpatient treatment for alcohol use disorder. The Journal of Positive Psychology, 10, 477-488.
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