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The Art of Gratitude

What a year it was to reflect on given the Covid-19 Pandemic. We have really had to dig deep and find all our inner resources and resilience to get to here.

The Pandemic impacted on all of us in so many different ways and it just feels like we have to take something important from this experience in order to get through it one day at a time. We are all probably reflecting on different things and a whole variety of emotions. Perhaps the one thing we may all be reflecting on is, however, what have we been thankful for, who are the important people that have helped us get through and how can we thank them.

So, what are the benefits of being thankful, in other words, showing our gratitude? Research shows that when people show their gratitude towards other people, the following effects can take place:

  • Help you make new friends.
  • Improve your physical health.
  • Improve your psychological health.
  • Enhance empathy and reduce aggression.
  • Improve your sleep.
  • Enhance your self-esteem.
  • Increase mental strength/resilience.

So what would the effect be if we just spent some time being thankful to not only people but for other aspects of life such as having time and space, having beautiful Sussex surroundings to live in, having the sound of the ocean nearby and so on?

Why not try the suggestions listed below and see what the effect is on you and on others. Try it and then look for signs of the above on you and others.

Gratitude Jar or Box

  • Find a jar or box and decorate it with ribbon, glitter, stickers or anything cheerful.
  • Think of at least three things throughout your day that you are grateful for. This can be as simple as listening to bird song or as grand as having tea at The Grand. Write down what you are happy for, on little slips of paper (brightly coloured if possible) and fill your jar over time. Do this about three times a week.
  • Over time, you will find that you have a jar full of a myriad of reasons to be thankful for what you have and enjoy in the life you are living. If you are ever feeling especially down and need a reminder of what is good in your life, take a few notes out of the jar to remind yourself and savour the good things.
  • The same activity could be carried out by writing on colourful petal shaped leaves and making a flower out of the pieces and then putting the flowers on display. This can really brighten up the day. Or make a collage or anything else that is cheerful to look at each day.
  • All of the above could be carried out by writing things about a person you are grateful to have in your life and seeing what the impact is when you present it to them. What a lovely gift to give someone.

Gratitude Jar or Box for Others

  • Think of someone that you would like to thank.
  • Think of different reasons or things they have done for you this year that you are really grateful for or just some reasons that you really appreciate them and value them. Write the reasons down on single pieces of paper. Colourful post it notes for example would work or you could be creative and cut out heart shapes on different coloured paper to write on.
  • Try to think of 52 or 53 things if you can, one for each week of the year. Or a number that celebrates the person’s birthday or anniversary or any other number that is important to them.
  • Fold up the pieces of paper and place them in the gratitude jar or box.
  • Ask the person to open up one sheet of paper each week so that over time, they can see how much they are appreciated by you.

Wishing you all a really peaceful New Year and thank you for reading these articles. I especially want to thank the whole team behind this wonderful publication for accepting me just as I am which is usually very late with handing in these articles which then puts pressure on the team. Yet, they never complain. Thank you for being a wonderful team that brings happiness, joy and a font of knowledge to our doorsteps every month.

Dr Sima Patel Chartered Psychologist and Coach

Posted in Wellbeing, Wellbeing Practice on Jan 01, 2021