The Phase team recently did a gratitude challenge in the office which then inspired us to deliver an assembly to young people about how embracing this attitude can improve your wellbeing and happiness levels. It has convinced us and so hopefully we can convince you of its benefits too!
For a week we ended each day by listing on a chart 3 things that we were grateful for. The answers ranged from the silly to the thoughtful, the big things to the small things and highlights included The Great British Bake Off, modern technology and having supportive friends. So how does this simple daily reflection actually make a difference? Why is it that at the end of that week we felt generally more energised and more positive?
Our natural tendency as human beings is to get to the end of a day and to notice the 9 things that went wrong that day rather than the one good thing that might have happened. I know I have been guilty of this. But there is something really powerful that happens when you start noticing that one good thing, when you choose to shift your mental focus from what your life lacks to what you already have that is great. A daily gratitude task forces you to look for this positive and there always is one, even on those dark days. It is not about pretending that life is wonderful when it’s not, or that the darkenss doesn’t exist, instead the practice helps you to not dwell on that stuff. During my gratitude challenge, on one particular day the standout thing to be grateful for was simply just making it to the end of the day! The point is, there will always be something if you dig around enough.
If you’re not yet convinced, it is an idea that is also backed up by lots of scientific research. I collated some of the benefits that have been proven (there are lots!) and so I have listed a few here. People who practise gratitude daily are generally: happier, experience less physical illness, are more confident and more productive, have better relationships, have more energy and creativity, have better sleep and have more compassion for other people.
I think that makes it sound pretty worthwhile!
In the office we chose to write down 3 things at the end of each day but there are lots of creative ways you can incorporate this kind of thinking into your life. Some people collect their ideas in a jar which can be emptied and read out as when a boost is needed, some people use an app on the phone, if you’re a visual person you could take a photo every day that represents what you’re grateful for, or you could create a charm bracelet to remind yourself of some of the key people/ things in your life. It may even just be a matter of noticing the simple pleasures, or saying thank you to people more often. There are many ways, so why don’t you make a start at one of them today… at bringing gratitude to your experiences instead of waiting for a positive experience in order to feel grateful.
Here is a video that we showed in our assembly to help inspire you on your way